by Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Where is the reporting on Iran's Islamic terrorist groups that are as monstrous as ISIS?
It is intriguing that mainstream media has focused on violent terrorist acts of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), a radical Sunni Islamist group, while they are deliberately avoiding raising awareness about other Islamist terrorist groups that are as brutal as ISIS, if not worse.
The other groups that I am referring to are primarily the Iranian-backed radical Islamist militias.
Brutal terrorist groups such as Kataib al-Imam Ali (KIA) are not any less violent than ISIS when it comes to the aggressive and horrific tactics they use against civilians. In fact, they are known for showing videos of cut-off heads and bodies burned over open fires. This particular group, which is backed by Iran, originated from the Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Shebl al-Zaidi is the secretary-general of Kataib al-Imam Ali and he is known for his sectarian and vicious tactics.
Another militia group that is known locally for its violent attacks is Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. It reportedly receives approximately $2 million a month from the Islamic Republic.
There exist more than 100 of these Islamist terrorist groups and they are increasing on a daily basis as they branch out.
One reason behind the liberal media outlets’ failure to shed light on non-ISIS terrorist groups is that they do not want to criticize Iran. These outlets are heavily influenced by the Obama administration's leniency toward the Islamic Republic. If President Obama views Iran as a constructive state actor, then the media put aside standards of professional journalism and follow in the footsteps of the President.
One of the crucial tenets of Journalism in Western democracies is that it should not be influenced, intimidated or guided by ruling politicians. Being independent and raising public awareness by presenting different ideas and facts is what makes a media outlet an informative outlet and a platform for advancing democracy.
In addition, media outlets and journalists seem to prefer simplicity to complexity. It is much easier for those journalists to talk about the Islamic State and their horrific acts rather than engaging in rigorous research on other stealth terrorist and radical militia groups. Unfortunately, a lot of reporters are not knowledgeable in this field and they prefer to do the easier task. It is easier for them to write about ISIS in the length of space and time they are given than to research all other Islamist terrorist groups.
The ultimate goal of these groups is to enter the political establishment of the state and inform decision-making from the top. Hezbollah succeeded at this in Lebanon and other Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia groups did the same on Iraq.
Furthermore, leftist media outlets appear to view these radical Islamist groups as “legitimate” groups because they are funded by a nation-state (in this case, Iran). Many of these groups report directly to General Soleimani or Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. As a result, if a similar violent act is committed by one of these Iranian-backed groups, the mainstream media outlets are less likely to criticize them harshly.
Finally, in order to survive as news organizations, these outlets are more driven by the need to make a profit, than the need to raise awareness, As a result, they focus on increasing their ratings and attracting high numbers of readers and advertisers, rather than providing credible information to the public.
In spite of the fact that there are many Islamist terrorist groups around the world committing atrocities against civilians, only ISIS has received the attention of the liberal media. There seems to be a symbiotic relationship between these outlets and ISIS. On the one hand, ISIS receives the publicity it needs from liberal media outlets. On the other hand, these networks increase their ratings, viewers, readers, advertisement revenues, and therefore their profit. It is incumbent on media outlets to bring to the world the stories of non-ISIS Islamist terrorist groups as well, and put a spotlight on the sufferings of the multitudes of forgotten people, who are affected by these terrorist groups.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.
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