Syrians struggle to capture the attention of an audience entranced by ISIS’s brutal imagery

The New York Times reports: The killings have been both deliberately lurid and strangely intimate. Designed for broadcast, they have helped the Islamic State militant group build a brand of violence that shocks with its extreme brutality, yet feels as close to viewers as the family images on their smartphones.

Broadcast specifically to frighten and manipulate, the Islamic State’s flamboyant violence consumes the world’s attention while more familiar threats, like the Syrian government’s barrel bombs, kill far more but rarely provoke global outrage.

A few human rights advocates and antigovernment activists in Syria are creating shocking if nonviolent images and videos — even herding children in orange jumpsuits into a cage — to call attention to the wider scope of violence. So far, though, their voices have hardly been heard.

The Islamic State’s campaign of high-profile killings is not war at a remove, with the mechanized distance of drone strikes or carpet bombing. It is one-on-one slaughter with Hollywood production values, seeking to maximize emotional impact and propaganda value. [Continue reading…]

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