The Atlantic

Why ISIS Is So Good at Branding Its Failures as Successes

The Parsons Green attack shows that governments and media outlets keep falling into the propaganda traps being set for them.
Source: Daniel Leal-Olivas / Getty

When you think about terrorist attacks the way the Islamic State does, even blatant technical failure can become strategic success. It’s all about how shrewdly you brand an attack after the fact—and how willing the media is to buy into your narrative.  

Consider what happened in the U.K. on Friday. During morning rush hour, the London Underground’s District Line was brought to a standstill after a fireball erupted on a train at Parsons Green Station. Minutes after the Metropolitan Police arrived, news broke that the incident had been caused by a bomb——that had failed to detonate properly. Within a the incident an attempted terrorist attack.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic8 min read
The Power Of Fear In The Thawing Arctic
Living north of the Arctic Circle meant learning fear and its power to motivate in the face of danger—whether from a bear or climate change.
The Atlantic10 min readPolitics
The 2020 Congressional-Retirement Tracker
For the second consecutive election, more Republicans than Democrats are forgoing reelection, a potentially ominous sign for the GOP in 2020.
The Atlantic4 min read
How Ancient DNA Can Help Recast Colonial History
The people of pre-colonial Puerto Rico did not disappear entirely—a new study shows that the island’s residents still carry bits of their DNA.