The question that everyone is struggling to answer is: why? Why are they going? Why leave a safe country to fight for its enemy? Why convert to a radical form of Islam when you were not raised in that kind of environment?
One explanation points to terrorist groups’ recruitment methods. They are becoming experts in using social media to swell their ranks, spread their message and convince young people to come and fight. Their propaganda machine is on point and ever present: they are on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Ask.me, Reddit, and a host of other platforms.
Whatever the original hook, extensive exchanges follow to further convince potential recruits: Skype conversations (as seen in the video above) are often used to show how good life is in ISIS-controlled Syrian territory. The whole process is immersed with strong symbols and well-made videos that make going to fight seem like the right thing to do.
After seeing how effective their techniques are we are left to wonder: how can we stop it?
Many governments have tried different strategies, not all taking the same path to resolve the problem. For instance, in France, the government released a publicity video demystifying ISIS claims and showing how everything that ISIS says is a lie. Similarly, a U.S. campaign “Think Again, Turn Away” uses Twitter as a tool of counter-propaganda.
Meanwhile, Canada has a project to target young persons on the verge of going to fight with ISIS. This is also a double operation: they stop people from going, and for those that have left, they assure they won’t be a threat to Canada after their return. The question is whether or not Canadian Intelligence is able to find these radicalized persons, find them at the right time, or even to find them at all. Moreover, do we have the manpower to conduct such a program to the greatest effect possible?
Given the recent atrocity in Paris are these tools effective?
These are questions we need to explore in our search for a viable solution to this ongoing problem.