Countering Online Extremists Requires Offline Intervention

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Seemingly a typical teen living in the Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital, Ali Shukri Amin, 17, led a different life online as curator of a pro-ISIS twitter account. Last week, Amin pled guilty in federal court to providing material support to ISIS.

This case, and others like the shootout in Dallas or the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, demonstrate the changing threat of terrorism. Large-scale, organized terrorist plots – in most instances planned abroad – are now further complicated by those conceived by individuals who may have never left the U.S. or European countries, and have been inspired by extremist group ideologies, yet operate outside of an organized structure.  It also demonstrates how social media platforms have become powerful propaganda and recruiting tools for groups like ISIS – essentially relying on social networking as opposed to operational networking. Their campaigns are sophisticated and prolific, and their messages resonate. But why? And how can we mitigate the threat?

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