The Guardian reports: The past six months have not been good for Isis. In addition to mounting losses on the battlefield, the organisation has been struggling to dominate the information war despite the enormous resources it devotes to shaping its message.
Central to Isis’s anger has been the activist group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS). It numbers roughly 100 members who for more than a year have chronicled airstrikes, terror attacks, executions and other events in the Syrian city, often in real time. Life in the so-called caliphate is detailed without gloss or spin. No one else has been able to offer such insight into the organisation’s stronghold. And none have paid a bigger price for trying.
Late last year, Isis cut the internet and satellite television connections to Raqqa. It announced that anyone caught collaborating with the group would be killed, and it set about trying to weed out agents across the city and within its own ranks. According to one Isis member spoken to by the Guardian, the group has put extra resources into counter-espionage.
Since then at least four prominent activists and journalists have been killed, including three who were living and working in Turkey.
“The situation is getting more and more difficult, especially after the assassinations in Turkey,” said one member of the Raqqa group. “We are under immense pressure inside and outside Syria. Many activists have shut down their accounts and reduced their work in the areas under Isis control. Others [have remained] more driven to challenge Isis and continue their work relying on Thuraya phones and constantly changing their locations and contact details. We can still manage to get information from inside Isis but video has become more difficult now. They have built tremendous fear inside people.”
Another member of the group, who also insisted on remaining anonymous, said: “We have been receiving lots of death threats since 2012 but the situation right now is extremely dangerous. All I can do is move house every month or so and move cities. We ran away from Syria to Turkey for a safe place to work and live in but now Turkey has become as dangerous as Syria. [Continue reading…]