Why ISIS loves the Detroit Lions

Dec 1, 2015 at 3:38 pm

new report published Tuesday found that Twitter is the preferred social media platform of American ISIS sympathizers, who often use avatars depicting radical Islam's black banner, green birds, and lions — and in at least one case, the Detroit Lions' logo.

So ... how did one of the NFL's biggest losers become associated with ISIS? (Errr, ISIL? Daesh? The artists formerly known as ISIS?)

The report — titled "Isis in America: From Retweets to Raqqa," published by George Washington University — points out that "a particularly clever account uses a picture of the Detroit Lions, combining a distinctly American pride in an NFL team and the popular Islamic symbol of bravery very frequently used by ISIS supporters."

The report states that in addition to the ISIS black banner, other more subtle avatars include green birds, a symbol of martyrdom. Others use images of radical clerics and photos of other Americans killed waging jihad or jailed for terrorism charges.

Lorenzo Vidino, co-author of the report, draws parallels with American ISIS supporters to any other internet community. “They are kids of their generation playing with avatars," Vidino told The Guardian. "Some change pictures almost on a daily basis. These are very suburban, normal American culture kind of kids with an ISIS sympathy. It’s a hybrid identity.”

He adds, “It is an internet community with different roles and personalities, just like you have a community of Justin Bieber fans."

Read the full report here (via The Guardian).