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.