Deterring a Caliphate: Means to Delegitimize Islamic State Radicalization and Recruitment
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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This study focuses on how to mitigate the Islamic States attempts to radicalize and recruit new followers utilizing the internet and social media. A key to the Islamic States rise was its ability to propagate its message and recruit substantial numbers of supporters through a widespread, global social media campaign. Their campaign utilized modern technology such as social media to distribute information and communicate with supporters and potential recruits. By examining the driving factors contributing to radicalization, this study shows how past and potential deterrence methods address the foreign fighter dilemma by working at the root of the problem radicalization. This paper employs the problemsolution methodology and qualitative analysis to answer the research question What psychological methods can be exploited to deter radicalization and the recruitment of foreign fighters by the Islamic State The evaluation process utilizes the individual factors that drive radicalization 1 grievances, 2 enabling environments and support structures, 3 networks, and 4 ideologies to first evaluate past efforts and then analyze proposed solutions to radicalization and foreign fighter recruitment by the Islamic State. Analysis determined previous efforts address radicalization and recruitment from a reactive approach and failed to address the four factors selected as evaluation criteria. A proactive social media campaign was the only proposed solution that mitigated every driving factor of radicalization however, these results conflict with past state-sponsored attempts at utilizing social media as a deterrent to radicalization and subsequent foreign fighter travel. The reason for variance is the United States lack of credibility with the Muslim community. This paper recommends social media energies be refocused using organizations and individuals with the Muslim communitys trust to gain credibility and circulate Counter-Islamic State messaging.
- Unconventional Warfare