Ali Soufan, former FBI agent and now CEO of The Soufan Group spoke to Der Spiegel:
SPIEGEL: You recently conducted extensive research into Islamic State’s media strategy, analyzing numerous documents including videos and Facebook and Twitter postings. What differentiates IS from other terrorist groups?
Soufan: They are very familiar with social media — they know how it works. They are very smart in reaching out to the iPhone generation. They deploy different tools in different markets — using mostly Twitter in the Gulf region, for example, and Facebook in Syria. It’s very decentralized and that is interesting. It is the first organization of this kind that understands the impact of social media.
SPIEGEL: Do you know how many people are working in the IS propaganda department?
Soufan: We do know that a whole army of bloggers, writers and people who do nothing else other than to watch social media are working for IS. According to our research, most are based in the Gulf region or North Africa. The program was started by Abu Amr Al-Shami, a Syrian born in Saudi Arabia. And we know that at one point more than 12,000 Twitter accounts were connected to IS. This is one of the unique tactics used by this group: the decentralization of its propaganda work. The Islamic State has maximized control of its message by giving up control of its delivery. This is new. [Continue reading…]