Every major news source has been focusing their attentions on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS – the terrorist organization that broke off from Al Qaeda.
The group has taken control over a swath of land from Northern Syria to Southern Iraq, and their ultimate goals are to broaden the Islamic state and control territory and infrastructure within countries. ISIS has been the source of Iraq’s greatest conflict, and has created enemies across the globe. Recently, ISIS’ heavy recruitment has become a global concern, as their sphere of influence is spreading internationally and effortlessly.
We like to think that ISIS’ presence is not in America, and that it is abroad in the Middle Eastern countries far enough for us to be safe from them. But we’re wrong. The war with ISIS is just a mere click away.
Their motto, “Remaining and Expanding” reaches beyond borders and seas – it can very much reach you and me. ISIS communicates with the world through social media – they notify their destructions through outlets like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. They post and tweet videos and pictures of beheadings and other acts of slaughter, as well as their well-produced propaganda videos. Media content is then scattered and posted by various pro-ISIS accounts that governments across the globe are squirming to shut down. Because of the expansiveness of the millions of social media accounts on the Internet, it is almost as if the American government is playing Whack-A-Mole with ISIS. Every time a suspected ISIS account makes a statement, the government is notified and they immediately shut down the account.
Why are millennials joining ISIS?
The terrorist group is terrifyingly wealthy. As a result of their control over oil and several valuable resources, the wealth comes from trading with other Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey. They have also received donations from wealthy sympathizers across the globe.
With money comes power and influence, and ISIS has all of the above. ISIS uses social media outlets to attract Muslims across the country, targeting those who are especially vulnerable to extremism and are dissatisfied with the current governments they live under. To millennials actively on social media who want money, power, and influence, joining ISIS doesn’t seem like a bad idea.
Someone declared online war on ISIS?
A hacking group called “Anonymous” who are infuriated with the actions of ISIS and all global terrorists, declared online war on Youtube. They announced the start of their retaliation after the Charlie Hebdo attacks and firmly stated, “We, Anonymous around the world, have decided to declare war on you terrorists.” They promised to “take revenge” and “survey [ISIS’] activities on the net” and “shut down [their] accounts on all social networks”. This hacking group has a Twitter account dubbed “Operation Ice ISIS” and has almost 30 thousand followers. The obscurity of this group is similar to that of ISIS – the number of members are unclear and their actions are unprecedented. Tweeting announcements and producing video messages, “Anonymous” is fighting back and promising revenge against ISIS using the same communication methods as the terrorist organization.
Where is the U.S. government in all of this?
In the century of fast-paced technology and communication, warfare has taken this new toll online. While governments are still navigating how to combat this new form of warfare, members of terrorist groups have scattered themselves online and are utilizing the power of the internet to recruit new members and expand their organization.
We are in a new era – an era of the birth of online warfare that includes everyone who has a social media account. The U.S. government relies on citizens online who notify them of any fishy terrorist activity on Facebook or Twitter. The U.S. Justice Department has also voiced that they will “indict people who assist ISIS with its use and production of social media”. Thus, you don’t need to participate in ISIS’ killings or beheadings to end up in jail – through simply clicking retweet or sharing ISIS propaganda, you are ultimately supporting the organization.
War is not distant anymore, it is but only a click away.