While a lot of people are still simply learning that ISIS isn’t just the fictional espionage organization on Archer or a broken up post-metal band, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is hard at work recruiting new members around the world with one of the most time-honored traditions – selling cool t-shirts. According to reports, the jihadist organization that has been labeled too extreme even for Al-Qaeda’s tastes has long used merchandising as a way to appeal to young people in its target countries, and sales of ISIS t-shirts, hoodies and even toys have been on the rise thanks to online retail sites. But as far as Facebook is concerned, the spread of those retails sites will not occur on the walls of your friends, families and those really attractive girls that you’ve never met in person but still sent you a friend request so you’ll like their modeling photos.
According to CNN, Facebook will delete any links to websites selling ISIS gear and any images that promote the sale of anything related to hate groups or terrorist organizations. “Where hateful content is posted and reported,” a spokesman told the news outlet, “Facebook removes it and disables accounts of those responsible.” Meanwhile, one of the companies that sells such merchandise is still somewhat active on Twitter, although CNN was unable to get a response regarding Twitter’s policies on jihadist t-shirt sales.
So where is all of this cheap crap coming from anyway? That’s still up for debate. It seems that ISIS may not actually be manufacturing the goods, but the organization could still be profiting from the shirts and toys.
While Middle East experts are unsure whether ISIS is manufacturing the products, terrorism researcher J.M. Berger says he wouldn’t be surprised if the money ends up going to ISIS.
“ISIS has a big base of support in Southeast Asia — a long history with Islamism and jihadism. A number of foreign fighters come from the region,” Berger wrote in an email to CNN.
“Much radical activity is local: vigilante gangs and mainstream politics. For those who find those options lacking, ISIS seems to be the leading choice of outlet.” (Via CNN)
Regardless of where the clothes and toys are coming from, success breeds imitation. With a quick morning Facebook search, I was able to find a page promoting shirts like this:
Additionally, the aforementioned company still active on Twitter is aiming really young by selling these ISIS figurines:
Bottom line, if your rebellious teen is suddenly sporting one of these t-shirts, it might be time for a talk. And if your precocious kid asks for one of those adorable figurines that all the other kids are getting for their birthdays, he might not be talking about Cherished Moments.