Islamic State And Terror In The Social-Media Age

Earlier this month I attended the Web Summit conference in Lisbon where, among an assorted crowd of politicians, coders, and Silicon Valley millionaires born in the 1990s, I sat on a panel discussing the role narratives play in 21st-century terrorism. Speaking alongside me was Helan Abdulla — known as Helly Luv, a Kurdish-Finnish singer, dancer, and actress — who told our audience a story.

As a Kurd, Luv told us, she had taken an interest in the Syrian civil war from its beginnings. In a February 2014 music video titled Risk It All and filmed inside a Syrian refugee camp filled with Kurdish refugees fleeing the war, Luv proudly sang about Kurdish independence dressed in high heels and a short dress, while backing dancers held AK-47s.