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.