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October 3, 2022

How terrorist groups recruit online

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There is a psychological need to want to belong to groups. The functions of these groups may vary from group to group as different groups are able to influence their members differently. In the age of social media, social interactions have moved from traditional one-on-one interactions to interactions on online social media platforms.

“The Internet is a prime example of how terrorists can behave in a truly transnational way; in response, States need to think and function in an equally transnational manner.” Ban Ki-moon Secretary-General of the United Nations. Violent extremist groups advanced their recruitment tactics with the aim to avoid detection from law enforcement authorities. They do this by distributing propaganda through password-protected websites and restricted access chat groups. There is a sense of belonging in these groups which fulfill the people’s need to belong and associate with groups.

Humans are naturally social beings and the need for association is a primary need, especially during growth and development, But with social media platforms making a large impact on the nature of human interactions, violent extremist groups have managed to dissociate their targets from interacting with other people promising exclusivity and monetary gains to the targets. This dissociation has seen violent extremist groups targets prepare, plan and execute violent attacks on innocent civilians without detection by law enforcement authorities.

Some terrorist groups have gone so far that they are targeting children between 10 and 17 years for recruitment. These organizations have established learning platforms for children where after a while of learning, the children begin to do small tasks and favors for the group. Initially, the favors and tasks are menial and negligible, but with time and as the teacher-student relationship grows, they begin to get more complex to the point of committing atrocities.

All online activities should be monitored by users and guardians to prevent children and youth from getting recruited and radicalized by violent extremist groups. Emphasis must be laid on legitimate news and information sources and all suspicious activities should be reported to the guardians and law enforcement authorities. Putting an end to violent extremism call for cooperation and coordination of efforts that address the vice. It is our responsibility to ensure and guarantee the safety and security of our country.