J.M. Berger writes: Observers have focused, rightly, on the quality and quantity of Islamic State propaganda as a factor in its success, but passive material can only take the typical radicalization so far. Therefore, the organization deploys a wide variety of tailored online interventions to bring their targets into the fold.
Sometimes referred to as “grooming,” these interventions are conducted by small teams of prolific social media users who lavish attention on potential recruits in order to shape their worldview and encourage direct action in support of the Islamic State, ranging from lone wolf–style terrorist attacks to migration to Islamic State territories. Some interveners are more formally affiliated with the Islamic State while others appear to be informal volunteers.
Online interventions are more prevalent in countries where the social climate offers few opportunities to safely discuss an interest in the Islamic State in a face-to-face setting, but even in such environments, many cases incorporate activity that crosses over from online to real-world interactions. [Continue reading…]