Kelmendi, V. & Jakupi, R.-2019
At its core terrorist acts are a form of political communication. Such acts are meant to communicate something beyond the violence they cause and the fear they inject on the Western societies. ISIS uses some of the committed terrorist acts to enforce their narrative, for instance ISIS has claimed responsibility for some terrorist acts for which no link between the attacker and the terrorist group was later found. These violent acts have meaning and reference; they shouldn’t be taken as something isolated or outside the sphere of communication, and as such, strategic communication should be a central part of any counter-terrorism strategy. Arguably through terrorist acts on carefully chosen targets to maximize their effect and meticulously choreographed communication strategy that caters to 24-hour news cycles and the unfiltered communication with public, the present-day terrorist organizations and their supporters have already established a strong discursive platform. This platform is directed to vulnerable individuals and communities for recruitment purposes by the terrorist organizations, and against the Western liberal discourse or the traits associated with that system of values. It is within this framework that this report will seek to answer why strategic communication, primarily its counter-messaging facet, is crucial to every strategy that aims to counter radicalization and violent extremism and to minimize the appeal of terrorist organizations among vulnerable groups. While IS’ territory, once a vast area spanning Syria and Iraq, has been confined to several square kilometers in Syria, its fight has moved to a new battleground on the internet, particularly on social media platforms. The so-called ‘Islamic State’ has utilized technology in an unprecedented manner making it likely to reach anyone with access to Internet, disseminating messages of military, political and religious content he number and size of online extremist groups using social networks to harass users, recruit new members, and incite violence is rapidly increasing.
While social media platforms are working to combat this (in 2016, Twitter reported it had shut down 360,000 ISIS accounts) they traditionally rely heavily on users’ reports to identify these accounts.
This shows that efforts to curb ISIS online presence are not producing quick results, also taking into consideration the very nature of social media making it quite difficult for such content to be effectively removed.