MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - The Islamic State uses the most advanced Internet technologies in order to inform, indoctrinate and recruit its would-be followers.
"Terrorists love Twitter. ISIS has emerged as the most sophisticated group yet at using the service to spread its bloodthirsty message. And when ISIS jihadists and tens of thousands of acolytes swarmed Twitter in recent months, it raised the question of how social media sites should respond when unsavory groups colonize their platform," Time reports.
According to the recent research conducted by Quilliam, a London-based counter-terrorism think tank, Islamist radical movement has been using the online tools, such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms and discussion forums in order to indoctrinate, recruit and teach its new members.
"The Internet plays a key role in indoctrination because it creates a variety of opportunities for extremist groups to create platforms for their beliefs that are free of any external critique," the researchers emphasize.
The experts point out that social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter have already proved effective as instruments for "decentralized recruitment" of foreign fighters during the Syrian war. In addition, Twitter is used by radical Muslim fighters for real-time organizing, debate and provocation.
"Often the main Twitter feeds of popular Islamist groups are written in perfect English," Quilliam notes, as Islamists direct their tweets at NATO, prominent politicians and international figures as well as Foreign Affairs Ministries.
Although Twitter has recently closed down dozens of Islamists accounts, the social platform still contains myriads of pro-ISIS pages. Some of Islamists' accounts are reporting news from the conflict zone, others are disseminating propaganda.
AFGHANISTAN. Mujahideen eliminate at least 12 American soldiers in single day http://t.co/ZZiOE05HiR
— ISIS Media Hub (@ISIS_Media_Hub) September 4, 2014
The role of social media propaganda should not be underestimated, experts warn. In June 2014, the Daily Mail reported of the disturbing precedent when "using the hash tag #AllEyesOnIsis, extremist fighters flooded the social media site with propaganda, luring vulnerable people to join them in Iraq." The media source underscored that "within minutes, their stunt - which Twitter is powerless to block or moderate - was met with chilling messages of support from countries all over the globe - from Rome to Australia, Switzerland to America, Kenya to Nepal."
Experts confirm that ISIS has become the first Islamist organized group sophisticated at use of all modern social net technologies.
Meanwhile, Russian bloggers report that ISIS has begun to spread its propaganda through Russia's social networks, particularly via Vkontakte. Jihadi fighters have created numerous accounts and online groups aimed at potential Russian followers. Apparat, a Russian online journal, describes how ISIS recruits Russian, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan youths and collects donations for the Islamic State through Vkontakte. Jihadi recruiters also help would-be fighters to travel to the conflict zone through Turkey, train and instruct them.
Earlier this month ISIS terrorists have released a video addressing Russian people and its leadership, which contained a threat to start a war in North Caucasus. In response to this statement, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that the jihadists would be destroyed.
Although Facebook, Twitter and Vkontakte claim that they are blocking most of pro-Islamist accounts, in reality the social media platforms are unable to effectively filter and close down extremists' profiles, experts say. Furthermore, "the freedom of speech premise that underlies Twitter makes regulation of extremist propaganda almost impossible," notes the Daily Mail.
Time notes that some observers criticize Twitter for the lack of counter-terrorism policies.
"For several years, ISIS followers have been hijacking Twitter to freely promote their jihad with very little to no interference at all. Twitter's lack of action has resulted in a strong and massive pro-ISIS presence on their social media platform, consisting of campaigns to mobilize, recruit and terrorize," says Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, as cited by Time.
However, US intelligence officials point to the fact that ISIS social network accounts contain valuable data regarding the terrorist group's actions and locations. They consider Twitter a "gold mine" of information, underscores Time, citing William McCants, a former State Department senior adviser who directs the Project on US Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution.