Islamic State’s Use of Social Media

Social Media News and the Islamic State

The Islamic State has expertly used social media to advance its cause. Through the use of information operations it has recruited foreign fighters to Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other areas of the world. It has developed support groups and mechanisms throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. The terrorist group is raising money through the messaging it disseminates via the Internet. In addition, it spreads its message of fear and discouragement among sectors of the population that would oppose the groups aims. The social media content of ISIS is relevant, focused, and targeted to its primary audience. What is striking about the terrorist group’s ability to effectively use social media is, that at the same time, the organization is currently losing momentum, fighters, and territory on the battlefields of Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

Below is a selection of news reports, papers, and publications about the Islamic State’s use of social media.

Lighting the Path: the Evolution of the Islamic State Media Enterprise (2003-2016), by Dr. Craig Whiteside, International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Haque (ICCT), November 15, 2016. This paper takes the approach that the Islamic State’s media operations have a history going back to just after the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003. The framework for the analysis focused on the interaction between key media leaders, the structure and institutions, and the process of innovation.

Fighting the Islamic State on Social Media, by Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, RAND Corporation, October 11, 2016. The author believes that “. . . countering ISIL in the real world also requires countering its messaging online.”

“NATO: Islamic State is crushing West in global content war”McClatchy DC, November 16, 2016. The Islamic State has a very modern marketing strategy that is extremely effective.

“How Islamic State Weaponized the Chat App to Direct Attacks on the West”The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2016.

“Getting Serious on the Information Battlefield”U.S. News & World Report, October 25, 2016.

“Content Wars: Daesh’s sophisticated use of communications”NATO Review Magazine, 2016.

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