For a split second I thought I was watching an episode of Homeland. The slaughter of the American journalist was styled with HD cameras using an arid backdrop straight from Breaking Bad.
From the very beginning, Islamic State (IS) understood the culture they wanted to undermine and the need to create emotion among the crowd in doing so, and they are masterful at it.
The past 24 hours has ushered in a new age for sadistic and sophisticated propaganda.
In a Call of Duty era, the video employed the highest level of technical expertise, thought-through location and almost certainly an autocue to ensure the evil message had maximum impact. Then it was posted to YouTube with designs for viral circulation.
This is not only a message to America, it’s a message to us all.
These propagandists know exactly how to tell a story and leverage it at maximum speed across social channels, disrupting the well-oiled Western propaganda machines and placing them on a back foot.
They take their haters’ thoughts as inspiration. It’s toxic stuff.
Just as Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels used the Nuremberg Rally and swastika to turn a generation, the Islamic State propaganda machine will reinvent terrorism for the social media generation.
Do not underestimate the tactics of terror.
(Commissioned by The Sun, Thursday 21st August, 2014)