But the Times reports the thrust of the Obama administration's strategy for countering ISIS propaganda is less about bombing and more about what goes on in a little-reported interagency messaging operation called the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, inside the State Department.
Created in 2011, the operation has roughly 69 employees, a portion of whom engage in daily dissemination of anti-Islamic State messaging in multiple languages, including English, Arabic, Urdu and Somali, via such social media outlets as Twitter and Facebook.
One State Department official who works in the office tells the Times a recent "Why They Left Daesh" — another name for ISIS — Twitter campaign that used imagery to highlight the cases of ISIS defectors who spoke of "severe punishments, brutal torture and ruthless killings."
The official told The Times that the majority of those working in the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications are focused on crafting messaging that exposes "weakness" and "lies" in ISIS propaganda that can be disseminated to allies around the world — including moderate Islamic leaders from Europe to the Middle East and Asia — who can then promote it to young people who may be targets of ISIS radicalization.
The operation, which has an annual budget of roughly $5.5 million, is being "grossly underfunded," the official tells the Times, and its importance to the long-term fight against the extremists has been badly "misunderstood" by critics.
The ISIS propaganda machine, meanwhile, about a month ago put out an English-language video, the Times reports.
According to the Times, a narrative speaking unaccented English taunts:
"You claim to have the greatest army history has known. You may have the numbers and weapons, but your soldiers lack good will and resolve."
"Still scared from their defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, they return dead or suicidal, with over 6,500 of them killing themselves each year. So while you go around cooking the facts on the results of your military airstrikes, we continue to haunt the minds of your soldiers and sew fear into their hearts."
It's unclear where the slickly produced video was edited, and the Times reports intelligence officials say the final cut could have been produced and uploaded to an Internet host site by Islamic State admirers anywhere in the world.