Next MUNA conference:
February 6, 7 & 8, 2019

The question of combating radicalisation via social media by terrorist groups

Issue in GA 1: Disarmament and International Security

The current global society faces many challenges regarding dealing with terrorism. Terrorist organisations, such as ISIL, gain their fighters partially by contacting them through social media. The United Nations, therefore, investigated the phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in Syria. The findings were that around 25,000 foreigners had gone to Syria to fight in the civil war between 2011 and 2016. This number far exceeds previous numbers of FTFs participating in other conflicts in the past. Not only is the number of FTFs higher, their diversity has increased too, with the FTFs originating from a wide variety of different countries. There is actually a correlation between the increasing number of FTFs and the increasingly more crucial role of the Internet. According to a report by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in May 2015, social media plays an important role in encouraging FTFs to travel:

‘Recruitment is often carried out over the Internet through social networking sites and chatrooms.’

Moreover, the United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT) carried out an investigation in which they questioned 43 individuals that classified as FTFs in the civil war in Syria. When asked about the role of Internet on their decisions, some respondents said they already had the idea to go to Syria, but this idea was reinforced through social media. It is said that ‘potential recruits initially connect with Islamic State sympathizers or members via social media, with subsequent follow up by online peer-to-peer action’. One could say, in conclusion, that social networks often play a key role in the decision of mainly youngsters to go to Syria, because it is a method of channelling their youthful energy.

In order to solve this matter, the spreading of terrorism through social media should be lawfully addressed; thereby encouraging respect for international laws on human rights, including freedom of expression, the free flow of information and a free and open Internet.

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