A 9/11 would not have been ‘A 9/11’ if it wasn’t for the media coverage that exposed and spread the fear of terrorism globally. From Video threats to online security hacks and social media messages, terrorists have come a long way in digitizing their activities to reach us. So exactly, how important is media coverage for a terrorist? Let’s take a look…
Mohamed Merah, a 23 year old criminal from the South Western French city of Toulouse had managed to quickly finish editing a 24 minute video clip shortly before his death in an armed firefight. The video contained a compilation of his victim’s images from the GoPro camera as he killed them.
Merah did not take any opportunity to escape, but rather chose to walk to the post box and deposit a package containing a USB stick with the video in it. The package was addressed to Al-Jazeera.
Over the decades, terrorism has grown and evolved its strategies to reach out to the common masses and instill fear. But the art of terrorism has gone beyond bloodshed today. With the advent of smart phones and internet which gave access to Facebook and Twitter, terror groups have begun exploiting the technological opportunities proposed by the new age. ISIS was amongst the first groups that used these digital platforms to communicate and spread propaganda.
Posting video clips of Iraqi soldiers being slaughtered and journalists such as Steven Sotloff amongst others, being decapitated, became the headline on several social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Although the use of the internet is still at an early stage for most of these extremist groups, terrorist organizations are doing more than just instilling fear in the minds of people to get what they want. ISIS’s radical media campaign is distinct in nature when compared to other terrorist organizations. With disturbing ‘live’ video content of beheadings taking place to children being executed on the spot, ISIS has built a reputation that needs no introduction. Say thanks to Social Media!
The use of the internet has surprisingly benefited terrorist groups in more than one way. The success of any organization depends on the manpower that drives the cause. Terrorists have used the internet for their recruitment efforts as well. For these organizations propaganda and recruitment go hand in hand on social media. The campaigns are mostly targeted towards the youth and are set on radicalizing them into joining a greater cause. It’s not just ISIS today, the Ku Klux Klan, al Shabaab, Al Qaeda and many more are active in attaining their goals on a digital platform.
It’s more than what happens on Twitter and Facebook, terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS have actually published online magazines on a yearly basis. The magazine’s cover interviews with important members to events that take place in other parts of the world.
Al Qaeda’s online magazine Inspire was first published in June 2010 and talks about the helpful ways in which you can make a bomb and execute an attack. The glorification of the ISIS message has been seen through their online magazine Dabiq and Rumiyah. The publications do not instruct the reader but focus more on recruiting and spreading their extremist mission.
From magazines to TV broadcasts and finally social media in the 21st Century, the modern terrorist has adapted his strategy and become more media friendly. Just like each one of us, terrorists also have their own social media accounts and groups that help communicate and spread important messages as well as recruit more fighters. Your media-friendly terrorist is now just a click away!