A Look Into Modern Terrorism and the Recruitment that Proceeds it

A Look into Modern Terrorism and the Recruitment that Precedes It

Modern journalism has turned words like Mujahideen, al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, and Taliban into common names in the American household. This isn’t by coincidence, nor did it happen without the hard work of several parties. Terrorist organizations have been working constantly under the radar to make their names known to the public, spreading the word of their holy mission and power. The methods used to present themselves vary, from an internet presence to suicide bombing. Both tactics are surprisingly effective, with varying amounts of success gained by the groups who employ them.

Social media in the forms of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit are quickly becoming sizable platforms for the online masses to discover major events across the globe. These new web platforms allow for the easy spread of information, including terrorism. Terrorist attacks are now often broadcast across social media platforms almost instantly. Intentions through the online community widely vary: from spreading awareness for fundraising, blood donations, and uniting to keep peace, to other extremes, such as terrorist propaganda, recruitment, and weaponization. Online social media is now used heavily by terrorist organizations to reach new members as well. These peer-to-peer networks allow for easy communication between people affiliated with terrorism and possible recruits. Even more so, encrypted websites allow for safe chat rooms and free communication before commitment to terrorist organizations (Ishengoma). This highlights the fact that modern terrorism is constantly evolving, moving forward at the speed of light, allowing for little delay in action. Terrorist recruitment must be reduced as one of the first steps to stop terrorism in the Middle East. Government administrations must lay aside political differences, and work together to stop a blossoming threat to world security. As these groups spread out across multiple countries, their line of defense becomes thinner. International cooperation is essential in finding their weakest link, and infiltrating it, and that link is their online presence.

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Terrorist Recruitment

Jenkins, Brian. “Building an Army of Believers.” 5 April 2007. Testimony.



Recruiting for a terrorist mission, is in essence, a campaign to spread the word of God. These campaigns are meant to show off, attract an audience, and strike fear into those who oppose the jihad. This results in the attention of the Muslim community; inviting recruits and volunteers for terrorist missions.

Al Qaeda no longer uses recruiters to spread its fingers over the Arab peninsula, instead using a loosely connected group of extremists who believe in jihad. This makes recruiting much less formal, and harder to track.

Al-Qaeda mostly relies on informal radicalization of recruits. Those who wish to volunteer for the jihad already appear radicalized before training. Terrorist organizations then use intense camps for team building, training, and military experience. These camps allow for a shared belief between recruits, as well as specific al-Qaeda planning.

However, there is a distinct difference between radicalizations and recruitment. This must be understood to realize the depth of the training undergone by recruits to organizations. Radicalization is the installment of an ideology; providing an incentive to an individual to embrace the violent jihadist nature. Recruitment is specifically training a human to become a weapon for jihadist purposes. It goes as far as introducing organization members to each other and allowing them to bond over a shared mindset. This in turn, prepares a unit for terrorist operation.

Recruitment tactics vary from country to country; in some Middle Eastern and Asian countries, recruited members are already pushed toward an ideal terrorist mindset, or follow Islam as an extremist. However, in western countries, recruitment becomes even more varied. European recruits are less assimilated into society, more easily recruited into jihadists organizations than American recruits. The United States integrates most immigrants within society, making it more difficult to find potential recruits. Those that have the potential to join a jihadist organization tend to be defunct; excommunicated from religious groups, and detached from families and communities. Those who are most susceptible to jihadist organizations tend to be searching for a justification through religion, approval, and other means.

Commitment to these groups varies, dependent on the time it takes to commit to jihadist ways, as well as the persuasiveness of the terrorist organization. Individuals may feel too pressured or uncomfortable during jihadist initiation, in turn ending their time as a jihadist, and returning to their previous life, as guaranteed by al-Qaeda or another organization. Terrorist ideologies are not for every recruit; showing the volunteers a fantasy they may have dreamed of as a bottom line.

All encompassing, Jenkins shows a true overview of the recruiting mind of a jihadist organization. Al-Qaeda, the obvious go-to for any such research provides a shining example of terrorist recruitment, as it is becoming more transparent as it further unravels under the scrutiny of western countries. Jenkins covers most aspects of recruitment, and a general scope, or lack thereof, of an individual likely to join the jihadist organization. My only argument, as in most cases I have found, is the lack of depth into online recruitment. Lacking only this one component, Jenkins solidifies my growing suspicion that terrorist organizations are made of incredibly brilliant officers who share a like-minded eye for brainwashing and control of power.

A Look Into Terrorism Recruitment #3


Anufrienko, Svetlana V. “Mass Media as a Vital Element of Modern Terrorism.” Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research 18 2 (2013): 206-09. Print.


The label, “terrorist” describes a group of the most unstable and deadly people of the current generation. The threat of terrorism is growing exponentially, as terrorist ideologies spread like a wildfire through the online community, morphing into dramatic action.

Mass media provides a crutch for terrorism recruitment to lean on; allowing for a large audience with minimal effort provided from terrorist organizations. Organizations use online mass media as free propaganda, promoting their accomplishments through open discussion, and intense scrutiny. He bond that mass media culture and terrorism have, parallels that of oxygen and a fire. The thoughts and actions of those who react to violent displays of cruelty only serve to feed the flame.

Observations show that the mass media craze that follows terrorism may have more effect on the global scale than the event itself. Information spreads much faster, more emotionally, and anonymously, allowing for a faster feedback. The Israeli hostage situation of the 1972 is incredibly well known. This is was, in large part, due to mass television promotion of the event, broadcasting the situation across the globe in a matter of minutes, only adding to the intensity of the event, rendering it beyond anything terrorist propaganda was deemed capable of before.

Online mass media culture only furthers the reach of terrorist organizations. The popularity of social media has far surpassed the popularity of television and newspaper, opening a new window of communication for tech-savvy terrorist groups. The internet provides the perfect outlet for terrorist recruitment and ideology. Easily accessible, as well as anonymous, online media grants the capability of terrorist communication for misinformation, as well as communication with public figures. This all allows for a stream of interest from curious audiences.

The capabilities that mass media provides has shown rise to new forms of terrorism. Acts of cruelty are evolving to become more dramatic, symbolic in nature. This forces an emotional connection in audiences, allowing for different outcomes of the event varying on region. These acts cumulate into civilian involvement, leading to causalities sending a strong message. The accumulation of these messages broadcasts a strong message of dangerous involvement, terrifying consequences, and a terrible misunderstanding of a religion turned into fruitless killing.

These fruitless killings terrify me. The unknown strength of terrorist organizations allows for such an online presence that is equally as hard to estimate, though it appears rather large in appearance. This has been the case in many media forms since the provided example of the 1972 Olympic hostage situation thrust mass coverage of terrorist threats into a hysterical spotlight. These events truly are free propaganda for terrorist groups; lending media coverage to groups is an unneeded catalyst that sparks the wrong type of attention.

This instills a sense of pride within these groups, only further encouraging acts of cruelty that surpass previous attempts. This cycle will not stop until mass media coverage of such events is tamed, allowing for less of a public reaction from intended audiences. I however fear this will not happen, due to the fear of censorship that clings to many Americans, further encouraging a growing ego in the Middle East.

A Look Into Terrorism Recruitment #2

Schweitzer, Yoram, and Aviv Oreg. Al-Qaeda’s Odyssey to the Global Jihad.

Institution for National Security Studies. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.

9/11 sparked a storm through the world, igniting fires within many youth’s hearts. Al-Qaeda used this youth movement to grow exponentially; grouping Muslim youths together to fight its holy cause. The sudden burst of activity by al-Qaeda over the years can be attributed to the sudden surge of youth volunteers, stemming from a dislike of western influence in conservative culture. Before his death, Osama Bin Laden consistently used dramatic flares of activity to stir notice within the ranks of other terrorist organizations, grouping them under the now blanket term of al-Qaeda. This sudden spread of affiliation has only led to more difficulties for Western powers to slow the spread of terrorism within the Middle East.

Like its western opposition, al-Qaeda maintains a special operation team, dedicated to the task of enlisting, financing, and managing large scale attacks, as well as recruitment. These teams spread the organization’s specialty of attack: suicide operations. These operations do not however, slow recruitment as expected. Al-Qaeda’s body count slowly has risen, totaling about 3,000 deaths by the September 11 attack on the United States. This use of offense has been adopted by many of al-Qaeda’s affiliating groups. The number of self-sacrificial attacks has continued to rise within the surrounding regions; spreading to areas very loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda ideology. This very specific method of offense becoming so closely affiliated with al-Qaeda has acted as a catalyst for recruitment through headline attacks, online social media, and reputation.

Terrorist organizations’ use of online media to target prospective recruits shows a strong attempt to keep stride with a growing social culture of youths. Propaganda and stories of success are shared instantly throughout online social media where the messages make their way to headlining news articles, only furthering the reach of the widespread pandemonium these groups wish to inflict upon their opposition. These messages only help highlight a growing anti-western sentiment within the ranks of terrorist organizations, and those who wish to join.

I would criticize that this article does not delve deeply into the online aspect of recruitment. However, the staggering statistics provided highlight the issue of dramatic attacks, going into greater detail regarding the use of humans as weapons, as the well as modernization of terrorist tactics. These statistics also show a correlation between al-Qaeda affiliates and other terrorist organizations adopting similar self-sacrificial methods to make a larger impact on the global scale. Though thoroughly convincing, I would again criticize the lack of detail regarding online social media and its use in responding to these events, as well as celebrating these moments as accomplishments in some cases.

Al-Qaeda has a well-known Twitter account, as does the organization known as Al-Shabaab. Neither of these media outlets (the organizations use them regularly) are mentioned. This is an enormous object to glance over. The twitter handles are constantly updated with messages, propaganda, as well as demeaning messages directed at the countries that oppose a misguided will of Allah. These men have no real control over rational followers of Islam, and never will. However, this does not stop them from infecting the youth of Muslim culture through other various sources.

A Look Into Terrorism Recruitment Through Social Media

Ishengoma, Fredrick. “Online Social Networks and Terrorism 2.0 in Developing Countries” International Journal of Computer Science & Network Solutions

1.4 (2013) Print.



Social Media in the forms of Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit are quickly becoming sizable references for the online masses to discover major events across the globe. These new web platforms allow for the easy spread of information; including terrorism.

Terrorist attacks are now broadcasted across social media platforms almost instantly. Intentions through the online community widely vary: from spreading awareness for fundraising, blood donations, and uniting to keep peace, to other extremes, such as terrorist propaganda, recruitment and weaponization. Online social media is now used heavily by terrorist organizations to reach new members. These peer-to-peer networks allow for easy communication between people affiliated with terrorism and possible recruits. Encrypted websites allow for safe chat rooms and free communication before commitment to terrorist organizations.

Twitter has become an easy route of mass communication between terrorist groups and their fanatics. The twitter page for the terrorist group al-Qaeda has over 14,000 followers, communicating through video, text, and forum. Groups use Twitter to continuously churn out ideological campaigns, fund-raising forums, as well as video of action taken against opposing forces. These methods are free, easily accessible, and far reaching. Perfect for touching a new generation of social media users.

Terrorism is evolving almost as rapidly as technology is moving. This break-neck speed hardly gives any time for response. Social media outlets are a promising way to make a large impact on thousands of people, and that is exactly what groups such as Al-Shabaab use these online resources for. Very few laws apply to the internet, making it an easy ground to evade law enforcement. The few laws that do apply to social media and the internet are easily avoided, through the afore mentioned encryptions, as well as internet proxies, and deep web search engines. All of which bypass most government restrictions.

I would however criticize that this article fails to mention the fact that these bypasses often do not sustain the form of social media. Deeper forms of communication are easily accessible through social websites such as Silk Road; a trading place for drugs, weapons, and humans. Though this study is focused on social media, such a heavy platform of online communication should not be excluded. Though harder to reach, these forms of communication are much less encrypted, due to total anonymity and can be accessed easily by those who wish to find it.

Ishengoma does present new statistics. None of which caught my interest as breakthrough in terrorist research. The statistics however, will be useful in further argument towards the spread of online terrorist culture. The article mentions several intelligent ideas, revolving around the Twittersphere; providing an explanation for those unaccustomed to the Twitter interface, as well as a glance at how it would be used under such circumstances. Ishengoma also mentions several twitter handles of terrorist organizations: al-Qaeda (@Andalus_Media), Al-Shabab (@HSMPress), allowing readers to reference the mentioned groups, and base their decisions from the facts provided, coupled with their own personal bias. Overall, the Ishengoma presents an encompassing argument, not void of facts.