Strategies used by Islamic State to Recruit on social media – Part 2


The second part of this article looks at the risks posed by the strategies used by IS outlined in the previous article. Strategies on dealing with the issue are also discussed.

CaptureThis article (Part 2) is a continuation from Part 1 which looked at strategies used by Islamic State (IS). Part 1 explored a number of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Strategies used by IS in order to recruit individuals. These strategies included future pacing, anchoring and association/disassociation. This article will focus on the risk posed by these strategies as well as how they can be addressed.

As clearly stated in the previous article, NLP strategies are not brainwashing strategies, they aim to persuade and direct an individual. NLP strategies are most effective when an individual is willing to undergo change and hence subject themselves to these techniques. In the case of IS recruiters, they are continually searching for individuals which they can influence. While individuals are often unaware of the NLP techniques being used, if they show a propensity toward the ideologies or discourses of IS then the probability of influence and subsequent recruitment increases.

Any person in marketing knows that it is ultimately a numbers game. Consider if IS target one thousand individuals and they are only successful in 0.2% of cases (just a small fraction of 1%) then two new recruits have joined Islamic State. While this figure is purely hypothetical it is aimed at demonstrating that even the most limited level of success poses a risk. As far as targeting a large number of individuals, this is not difficult for IS given their large online presence as well as their large number of sympathisers. Furthermore, the risk posed by recruitment is two fold and includes both travelling overseas to join IS as well as domestic acts of lone wolf terrorism.

The more important question is what can be done about tackling this issue. Firstly, there is a need to better understand the discourses and recruitment process of groups like Islamic State. Not all individuals are equally at risk, those disengaged from society and disaffected are at a higher risk. This goes well beyond disaffected muslims to include anti government supporters, hackers, those attracted to violence, individuals who feel betrayed and isolated and so on. These types of groups need to be also monitored on social media especially for the presence of recruiters.

Secondly, there is a need to challenge these discourses and techniques with counter discourses. Any measures used by the government in dealing with this issue will be turned into propaganda, especially highlighting the grievances of Muslims. Such propaganda can in many cases be preempted and addressed. The only issue with this approach is that many times individuals are well isolated from such counter discourses unless they can be identified and targeted early. Once individuals show adequate affiliation, they tend to be redirected to specific pages or sites to better engage and more importantly isolate  individuals with the necessary discourses of jihad and martyrdom… Click HERE to find out more about this article