Although military forces have repulsed the terror group, ISIS still controls a considerable amount of territory in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa. This is all in their grand master plan to form a global Islamic caliphate.
A caliphate is an area governed by a Muslim leader and where Sharia law is exercised. Establishing a caliphate from the ‘apocalyptic town’ of Dabiq, Syria was the starting point for the slain ISIS leader Abubakar Al-Bagdadi as he pursued to expand his territory worldwide.
According to ISIS beliefs,Dabiq which lies about 10km from the border with Turkey, features in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies as the site of an endtime showdown between Muslims and the “Kuffars”.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is believed to have said that “the last hour will not come” until Muslims have vanquished the Romans at “Dabiq” on their way to conquer Istanbul.
Following the reclamation of this embattled piece of land by some of the worlds’ military forces however, ISIS have significantly changed tact as they have lost large amounts of territory. The dangers have now shifted to online activities where they now flood their misleading ideologies. Innocent social media users are therefore unknowingly becoming vulnerable to these groups for recruitment, radicalization and accessing information that may cause harm to others.
This New ‘Jihad’ is known as ‘Al-Jihad Al-‘Alami’ which can be translated to mean ‘media jihad.’
Terrorist recruiters select their targets very carefully, as they are well versed in determining what types of personalities can be easily manipulated into adopting their extremist ideology.
The initiation of contact is an important step in this radicalization process. Terrorists will try and reach out to possible recruits in a variety of ways, such as friend requests on Facebook, follows on Twitter, and even direct messaging. In some cases, recruiters find and communicate to targets through video games or apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
This is a cause for concern because social media platforms are transnational by nature; they respect no borders or jurisdictions. We should endeavour to decrease online terrorist activities by monitoring and disrupting all these online actions.
Terrorist activities on social media platforms should be disrupted as soon as they spotted, this should be done by reporting of extreme content so that it can be pulled down. In addition to that we should also report accounts that always post extreme contents so that they are taken down by the service providers. For that to be successful we all need to be vigilant as timing is very important when it comes to pulling down content and accounts, the earlier we report the better since the reach will be minimal.
There must therefore be a global response and a universal agreement should be made between social media platform owners, to agree upon strict guidelines that determine what material is prohibited from social media platforms as a means of safeguarding our youth from the violent extremist groups.
Another different strategy to counter online extremism is to create counter narratives. Counter-narratives are essential, as these deconstruct radical ideologies and expose their flaws in reasoning. Terrorism is an ideological war so counter narratives are very important in countering the negative extremist ideologies before they poison people’s minds.
Furthermore, it is also important to monitor underage activities lest they fall prey to the terrorist activities online.
The government has established several online security measures and tremendous strides have been realized in the process. The government alone cannot succeed; it will take everyone’s efforts to win this war on terrorism especially on the Internet. It is therefore important for Internet users to be vigilant and thoroughly scrutinize all information that floods their accounts.