The ‘Absolute Dependence’ of Jihadist Groups on Web

By Steven Stalinsky

Steven Stalinsky has been Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) since 1999. His latest research centers on terrorist use of the Internet and can be found at MEMRI's Cyber Jihad Lab.  He is the author of the upcoming book American Traitor - The Rise and Fall of Al-Qaeda's U.S. Born Leader Adam Gadahn.

Over the past two decades, jihadi groups, including al Qaeda and ISIS, have fully grasped the opportunities provided by the internet. They have developed their own media bodies to promote their work, first via password-protected jihadi websites, forums, and discussion groups, and today via social media platforms open to all.

The use of social media with ISIS’ emergence highlights the global jihad movement’s absolute dependence on the internet and on these platforms, and is the template for the future of jihad. While the main jihadi media groups have lost much of the control over their public relations efforts because of social media—with jihadists anywhere now able to post whatever they want—they are reaching a much larger, and constantly growing, pool of potential recruits.

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