ISIS radicalises 'lone wolves' through strong social media presence

News by Danielle Correa

The recent tragedy at the Orlando nightclub has perhaps given new meaning to a report by ICIT on how radical groups like IS use social media to radicalise potential recruits

ISIS ‘lone wolves' are being activated in cities across the globe for the most potent cyber-physical combination of guerilla attack ever introduced in modern warfare.

Hours after the 13 June 2016 attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, ISIS claimed responsibility for Omar Mateen's actions, which killed 50 individuals and injured an additional 53, the worst act of terrorism on American soil since the 11 September attacks in 2001.

ISIS uses its strong social media presence to heavily recruit ‘lone-wolves' such as the “mentally ill” Mateen to offer a sense of belonging and radical ideology to these social outcasts.

Lone-wolf attacks, such as the tragedy at Pulse nightclub, are the result of imminent insider threats within the nation, according to the ICIT's report on Jihadist and lone-wolf attacks. ISIS has regularly published lists of targets online and in their publications and called to foreign jihadists to conduct lone-wolf attacks.

Similar to Mateen's assault on the LGBTQ+ community at Pulse nightclub, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik shot 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California in December 2015 on behalf of ISIS.

“We will not give in to fear or turn against each other,” said US president Barack Obama in response to Sunday's attack in Orlando. “Instead we will stand united to protect our people and defend our nation.”

Facebook users in the US were offered the company's Safety Check service, first introduced in 2014. The service pings users in the geographical area of a disaster reminding them that they might want to reassure their friends that they are OK. The company aimed to bring release to anxious friends and family members of the victims since so few were identified by the time Mateen was taken down by police.

Mateen is not the only lone-wolf attacker and attacks increase as a result of the growth of Jihadi ideology. Rather than allow ISIS to gain popularity, focus should be aimed at the victims, recovery of the nation, and plans of action put in place by law enforcement and legislators so that such events won't happen again.

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