Many of us know the feeling of posting a regrettable pic or two online. But while your thoughtless photos might be an embarrassment, they (typically) aren’t offensive enough to merit a US Air Force strike. If you’re a terrorist, on the other hand, a wee bit more discretion is probably advised.
ISIS didn’t post dick pics, but in hindsight that might have been a better call for the Islamic State militants who instead allowed selfies taken in front of a secret headquarters to surface on their social media. The photos caught the attention of US Air Force Intelligence, who, 22 hours later, took the entire building out with three JDAM-equipped bombs.
General Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, described the Air Force’s successful use of social media intel to take out an ISIS target at a speech Monday in Arlington:
The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about command and control capabilities for Da’esh, ISIL, And these guys go ‘ah, we got an in.’
So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three JDAMS take that entire building out. Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours.
It was incredible work, and incredible airmen doing this sort of thing.
ISIS is infamous for exploiting social media for recruitment purposes. According to Air Force Times and CNN, the organization has a reach of about 200,000 viewers on Twitter and other sites, which has helped it recruit roughly 3,400 Westerners and at least 200 Americans to its cause.
But would-be Islamic State militants are not the only ones paying attention to what ISIS posts on the internet: The US Air Force is constantly combing the organization’s social media for revealing photos exactly like the ones in question.
Just remember: Once it’s on the internet, there’s no turning back.
Top image via Wikimedia