MFW panel: ‘The Influence of ISIS’

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Melbourne Writers festival event called ‘The Influence of ISIS‘. It was presented by the Fifth Estate, the journalism-focussed series hosted by The Wheeler Centre.

With guest Jamie Tarabay, the national security and tech editor from Voctativ, and Sally Neighbour, the executive producer of ABC Australia’s 4 Corners program. Here are some of the interesting points that were discussed:

  • The ABC won’t send anyone to Syria or Iraq, except of the safest areas, because they (media) are targets – Sally Neighbour
  • The conflict is not getting covered (by media; as dangerous) so there is shallow, simplistic public debate – Sally Neighbour
  • Militant groups can’t reach an audience without us (media), ‘we are a great big ATM machine for them – Jamie Tarabay
  • Beheadings are on of their (ISIL) major recruiting tools. They ask for ideas for executions, create talking points – Sally Neighbour
  • Having execution delivered by a man with a British accent is powerful (message to the West) – Jamie Tarabay
  • The orange-haired (Australian) kid is useless to an insurgent group, except for propaganda – Sally Neighbour
  • You can’t decide it is too dangerous to send your own in, and then rely on or ask people on the ground (unethical) – Sally Neighbour
  • ISIS has killed very few foreigners, that is not their mission – Sally Neighbour
  • So much of the explanations are facile. It is too complex for people to be interested in to understand, so the (political) messages are those that are simplistic so they get through (to voters), such as ‘death cult’ – Jamie Tarabay
  • Look at the region (Turkey, Iran etc), if people wanted to contain and eliminate ISIS they could – Jamie Tarabay
  • The (Australian) opposition is in lock-step with the government in their politcial interest to be touch and strong – Sally Neighbour
  • The Obama administration is notorious for cracking down on leaks, making sure their version is the one out there – Jamie Tarabay
  • (When working in hostile locations) You have to learn how to read a crowd, the first think I was taught was ‘secure your exist’ – Jamie Tarabay
  • The ‘Bethnal Green Girls’ were recruited to be citizens of a states, not just fighters. A recruitment tool is to have women ‘taking care of’ those Assad is maiming – Jamie Tarabay
  • The Australian media is better at domestic (political coverage) than international because we are insular  – Sally Neighbour


The Fifth Estate talks are held at The Wheeler Centre every second Tuesday. 











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