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International Response to Terrorist Use of Social Media Warfare

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) work in cooperation with INTERPOL to share information on terrorist operations. INTERPOL has an agenda to fight against terrorism that includes examination of social media use by terrorist organizations. INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism Fusion Centre is a global hub for intelligence on transnational terrorist networks shared by member countries worldwide. A dedicated project on foreign terrorist fighters was established in July 2013. Major projects focus on terrorist use of social media and the Internet and hostage-taking for ransom [11].

The DHS, FBI, the Department of State, and other agencies are not only challenging justifications for violence, but affirming American ideals of inclusiveness and opportunity as well. These efforts include countering violent extremist narratives that feed on disenchantment and a sense of exclusion with positive affirmations of national unity. The basic philosophy behind this is that a complex issue such as violent extremist radicalization and recruitment requires a nuanced path to guide a whole-of-government approach [12]. Governments around the world are putting more and more pressure on social media providers to be proactive in keeping terrorist propaganda and content off social media platforms. The question at the core of this issue is: What is freedom of expression and free speech versus the incitement to terrorism? Many governments around the world have a rather narrow concept of what comprises free speech, as is pointed out by the U.S. Department of State in its annual report on human rights around the world.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has applauded the extraordinary efforts by states to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to and from conflict zones, while also urging more work on the issue because of growing recruitment by extremist groups, from more than 100 countries. The 15-member UNSC expressed grave concern over the increase of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/al-Sham (ISIL/ISIS or Da’esh), Al-Qaeda, and other groups. The UNSC has reiterated concern about the dangers posed by foreign fighters, both in zones of combat and their country of origin. It has asked for member states to improve prevention, interdiction, and enforcement efforts through intensified national activities and international cooperation, particularly information-sharing, undertaking priority actions with assistance from others where needed, as expeditiously as possible.

According to the UNSC, laws that criminalize recruiting, organizing, transporting, or equipping foreign terrorist fighters were particularly needed in many states. In addition, the UNSC noted with concern that only 51 member states were reportedly using advance passenger information to address the scourge of terrorism, and it urged all to support evidence-based traveler risk assessment and screen procedures without resorting to profiling based on stereotypes founded on grounds of discrimination prohibited by international law.

In addition, the UNSC noted that terrorist recruitment efforts that targeted youths, increasingly young women as well as men, have created the need for member states to more effectively identify and work with relevant local community leaders to address radicalization, and that much more work must be done to prevent terrorists from exploiting social media warfare technology to incite support for violence.

The UNSC has also called for strengthened international, regional, and public- private cooperation for all those purposes, with due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It has also urged greater cooperation with INTERPOL, calling on nations to increase exchange of information and use of the agency’s foreign terrorist fighter database.

In addition to security and legal and intelligence measures, UNSC members have stressed the need to provide a counter narrative to radicalization, addressing root causes and working with communities in that regard [13]. This means addressing conditions conducive to terrorism or the various social, economic, political, and other factors that contribute to circumstances in which individuals might become terrorists, including community-oriented approaches to terrorism or counterterrorism objectives, or policies and measures that are pursued through locally driven, cooperative initiatives, tailored to local contexts to increase effectiveness. Such practices include a community-targeted approach to terrorism and counterterrorism policies and practices that, driven by the security priorities of a state, target communities for intelligence-gathering and enforcement activities to detect suspected terrorists and thwart their activities, especially active plans for attacks.

UNSC members have recommended that special investigation techniques be used to gather information, such as electronic or other forms of surveillance and undercover operations, in a way that does not alert the targeted persons and for the purpose of detecting and investigating terrorism and organized-crime-related offenses [14]. These activities include the monitoring and interception of social media content. There are numerous terrorist organizations that are internationally recognized as a threat to global security [15]:

  • ? Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB)
  • ? Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
  • ? Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG)
  • ? Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB)
  • ? al-Mulathamun Battalion
  • ? al-Nusrah Front
  • ? Al-Qaeda (AQ)
  • ? Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
  • ? Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
  • ? Al-Shabaab
  • ? Ansar al-Dine (AAD)
  • ? Ansar al-Islam (AAI)
  • ? Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi
  • ? Ansar al-Sharia in Darnah
  • ? Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia
  • ? Ansaru
  • ? Army of Islam (AOI)
  • ? Asbat al-Ansar (AAA)
  • ? Aum Shinrikyo (AUM)
  • ? Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
  • ? Boko Haram
  • ? Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP/NPA)
  • ? Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA)
  • ? Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) (IG)
  • ? Hamas
  • ? Haqqani Network (HQN)
  • ? Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami (HUJI)
  • ? Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami/Bangladesh (HUJI-B)
  • ? Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
  • ? Hezbollah
  • ? Indian Mujahedeen (IM)
  • ? ISIL Sinai Province (formally Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis)
  • ? ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K)
  • ? Islamic Jihad Union (IJU)
  • ? Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
  • ? Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq)
  • ? Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s Branch in Libya (ISIL-Libya)
  • ? Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM)
  • ? Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN)
  • ? Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT)
  • ? Jemaah Islamiya (JI)
  • ? Jundallah
  • ? Kahane Chai (Kach)
  • ? Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH)
  • ? Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (Kongra-Gel)
  • ? Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ)
  • ? Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)
  • ? Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
  • ? Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC)
  • ? National Liberation Army (ELN)
  • ? Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
  • ? Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
  • ? PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC)
  • ? Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF)
  • ? Real Irish Republican Army (Real IRA)
  • ? Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
  • ? Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
  • ? Revolutionary Struggle (RS)
  • ? Shining Path (SL)
  • ? Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)
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