Most Domestic Terrorists Recruited on Social Media

In the wake of multiple attacks by apparently self-radicalized domestic Islamist terrorists, both in the U.S. and abroad, authorities are increasingly focused on the threat posed by social media as a recruitment platform for “lone wolf” assailants. In fact the majority of terrorists who have staged or attempted attacks in the U.S. in recent years were converted to violent Islamist extremism via social media, according to John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security at the Department of Justice.

Speaking at the Cambridge Cyber Summit, hosted by CNBC, MIT and The Aspen Institute, Carlin noted that terrorist groups like ISIS have had great success using social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to spread their messages globally, including in the U.S., where they are aided by a network of supporters who help amplify the messages.

Unsurprisingly, these messages resonate particularly well with alienated young men, generally the most promising pool of recruits for terrorist movements. Carlin told the audience: “We've got to get the message out: Terrorists are using social media to target young kids.”

Social media accounts linked to ISIS and it supporters have specifically encouraged individuals living in Western countries to engage in lone wolf attacks, which are much harder for law enforcement to disrupt because they typically don’t involve a larger network of people, whose activities and communications might tip off authorities.

Although young men are more likely to actually carry out terrorist attacks, a recent study found that young women play a central role in disseminating terrorist messages via social media.

Source: Media Post Social