Master Sgt. Kap Kim/Army

Fighting ISIS's Messaging Online Is Key to Victory

The leader of the international coalition against ISIS said that combating the group’s message online is as important as defeating them militarily.

The front lines in the war against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are on the Internet, the leader of the international coalition against ISIS said Wednesday.

Gen. John Allen, a retired four-star general and U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, told reporters that "de-legitimizing ISIL and degrading its messaging" online is as important as defeating it militarily.

ISIS is using the Internet and social media to push its ideology and recruit new members—and the group is doing so very successfully.

Middle East and Western countries alike are concerned about the ease with which social media allows the terrorist group to target and radicalize youth, and are looking for ways to defuse ISIS's messaging campaign.

"Their hope was to try to have that first line of defense be the mechanism by which we can start to defeat the ISIL message as it is poured into the ears or into the eyes of those younger children who sit in front of a computer or who listen to social media of some form or another," Allen said of the coalition of countries he is coordinating with to defeat ISIS.

The number of Westerners fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq could number in the thousands, thanks in large part to social media.

Allen said the coalition countries see community partnerships as key to degrading ISIS's message.

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