Media and Global Terrorism (Islamic State)

Written by Mazida Mohd Desa

Terrorism has gained popularity and mass public attention mainly because of the globalization that brought together technological innovations. The Global Terrorism Index is a systematic attempt to rank the nations of the world conferring to terrorist activity. This attempt is essential so as to provide statistics and systematic reports of terrorism which could be of interest to researchers, policy makers, governments, authorities, etc. Terrorist groups which mainly come from the Islamic jihadist, seek to fear the audience for gaining political or tactical advantage or other purposes. The power of modern technology has been seen as a tool that can be manipulated by terrorist groups and act as an enabler of

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such groups. There are a number of terrorist groups and one of them is Islamic State (IS).

Al-Qaeda has established the image of “protecting” the Muslims. As IS split from Al-Qaeda following the death of its leader, the rise of IS has resulted in the shift of global jihadist movement from defence to offence. It is seen that IS has manipulated jihadism into something more to empowerment than defence, which posed threats to regional states, society and the West.

This was greatly achieved through decentralized nature of social media that allows users to create and disseminate their own information and messages. This in turn, manipulated by the IS to crowd-sourcing its propaganda. The use of social media by the IS was first evident at the time Abu Bakr declared the Caliphate on 4 July 2014 that appeared on Twitter which then the full speech of his was uploaded on YouTube. The IS’s media department is very productive, where it blends out several media materials for the purpose of raising money, attracting potential recruits and promoting the image of the organization, or just circulating fear among its enemies. As the social media sites are increasingly supervised for offensive materials, The IS tried further in ensuring its material is disseminated as widely and as quickly as possible. For example, the creation of Twitter application known as Dawn by Palestinian affiliates, collating a huge amount of personal data from users and tweets numerous contents of IS without prompting Twitter function of “spam detection”.

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Our today’s population especially younger generation has become more and more engaged and proficient in the use of social media and as IS organization actively utilizes social media as a platform to spread its materials and messages, these materials can be easily accessed by the public. Their videos of violence, beheading, etc spread and shared on various social media sites not only create fear to the audience but also may induce the culture of violence. Younger generation who is easily influenced by the materials they have seen could potentially mimic or imitate the violence. Besides, the IS psychological approach via the internet in recruiting individuals who have the abilities needed (physical and intellectual) is also seen as influencing and attracting the audience.

Apart from that, it attacks and terrors on those who do not comply or obey with its extremist and violent worldview, particularly when it misled the view of Islam and the war created on non-Muslim, thus giving a chance for hatred to emerge. This may result in non-Muslims hating on Muslims as the IS claimed itself as religious activist of Islam. Not only it gives bad image of Muslims but also fear among the true Muslims themselves because of the hatred they receive from the public. Besides, both non-Muslims and Muslims may be confused and they may misinterpret Islam especially when IS declared itself as “caliphate” – a state governed in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law, by caliph, or God’s deputy on Earth. The war they declared, particularly on Western people will endlessly spread and develop the hates between each other; the countries, believers,

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citizens etc. results in never-ending war between the Islamic State and other affected countries.

Those affected by this war majorly were innocent that lived in fear of their daily lives. As taken from the speech by President Francois Hollande in response to the attacks at the heart of Paris in which he stated France will show no mercy towards its response to the Islamic State militants. From this, we highly anticipated that there will soon be revenge by the French. However, we obviously can tell, those who will be affected by this revenge will also include the innocents as “bullets have no eyes”. The same thing happened in the Paris attacks, a number of innocent people died, mourned by their families, relatives and friends.

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Terrorism happens due to several reasons and IS particularly declared itself as Islam Jihadist initially desires to “protect” the Muslim from oppression. However, due to the extreme and violent worldview, it became a terrorist group that is seen as misinterpreting the Koran and Hadith. The media, especially social media is highly utilized by this group in favour to spread and disseminate its worldview, to fear its enemies as well as for recruiting potential members and supporters nationwide as well as worldwide. This evident the relationship between media and global terrorism. Apart from that, the violence and spread of videos by IS online is seen affecting the audience; not only inducing fear and creating threats among them but also influencing violence and terrorism. I insist that freedom of speech, especially via the internet, should be reworked and re-looked at back. This is because such terrorism is successful in its agenda partly due to its establishment using media and the Internet particularly social media. If such freedom leads to negative impacts (i.e. terrorism) on individuals and world as a whole, it would be worthwhile to govern freedom of speech especially free speech via the Internet.