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by Azriel Peskowitz, Small Wars Journal
Terrorism has always been an information-based conflict. A terrorist wins or loses by how much he can imprint a perception of lethality (hence the terror in terrorism) upon a population, in order to influence the government. Like anyone else Terrorists can shape their narrative through propaganda, but for few aside from terrorists is that shaping so critical to survival. In the modern era, terror groups have gone beyond the mimeographed missive of relying on the media's easy attraction to bloodshed and spectacle. They have embraced the modern communications technologies that spread their message exponentially more effectively than anything seen previously. Some have created their own media conglomerates to professionally produce original media. This paper is concerned specifically with how terrorist groups use media as a combat multiplier. Propaganda helps terrorists shape their own narratives, a task that is critical to their survival. That task is no longer confined to convincing someone of the righteousness of a cause or the evil of one's enemies. Instead, it has played a role in altering political support for battles as they occur.
To illustrate this, we shall focus on battles against terrorists and insurgencies whose outcomes have been determined in the insurgents' favor due to Information Operations. Using three case studies of military battles against Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Mujahadeen Shura, and Hizb'allah, this paper will show not just that IO can determine outcomes and even grant victory to terrorists, but explore by what methods it does so and the lessons that can be learned from this.