WASHINGTON — Opponents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria are waging a propaganda war with the radical Sunni militant group on Twitter.
The digital battle raged Friday between supporters of ISIS, who Tweeted photos and messages with the hashtag #AllEyesOnISIS and opponents, who Tweeted #NoToISIS, #No2ISIS and #Yes2Iraq.
ISIS fans Tweeted photos of themselves waving the group’s black flag and holding signs with messages of support, prayers for victory or quotes from the Quran.
The Tweets claimed to come from all over the world, from Libya to Kenya to the Netherlands. This Tweet sends wishes for ISIS victories from Belgium:
One person Tweeted a picture of crowds in a market in an ISIS-controlled area of Syria, saying it proved how “peaceful” life is under ISIS:
ISIS supporters say the #AllEyesOnISIS” hashtag campaign is part of their “Twitter Storm” strategy to gather a billion followers:
Today is a day we support the Islamic State by raising 1 billion supporters. Use this hashtag #AllEyesOnISIS and pray for all our Mujahideen— ©ابنة الشيخ البغدادي (@MujaahidaHafy) June 20, 2014
But as with many hashtag trends, this one is vulnerable to being hijacked by the other side:
Tweets against ISIS stressed Iraqi unity and urged Iraqis_and Muslims everywhere_to overcome sectarian differences and speak out against radicalism.
No to terrorism, no to sectarianism, no to barbarity, no to backwardness, no to beheadings, no to murder. #NO2ISIS— Sana2 Al-Yemen (@Sanasiino) June 20, 2014
Sorry what kind of Islam do you follow? This violence and oppression does NOT belong to the religion of Mohammad nor Islam #NO2ISIS— Zahra Al-Alawi (@ZahraAlawi) June 20, 2014
But even as the rhetoric ramped up on Twitter and other social media, the real battle raged on in northern Iraq, where ISIS fighters continued Friday to clash with Iraqi security forces over control of Baji oil refinery and Tal Afar airport.