Virtual impetus? : exploring the role of new media in terrorist recruitment within the United States
Hengemuhle, Sarah Dawn Cooke.
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The influence of new media on terrorist recruitment, particularly within the United States, has been the subject of much discussion in recent years. New media has been considered a logical factor inducing U.S. citizens to Islamist terrorism. However, the assumption that new media is a significant factor in recruitment has been largely accepted as valid without systematic quantitative analysis. This study examines whether new media is a significant factor in recruitment by examining 63 individual cases of homegrown jihad from post-9/11 to December 2009. This analysis found new media was not a significant or contributing factor to recruitment in the majority of cases. This negative correlation suggests other dynamics are responsible for leading individuals to choose violent jihad. Pursuant to this, a number of other factors, including socioeconomic, religiosity, and social networks, were analyzed in each case. In the majority of cases, physical bonds of kinship or friendship were the predominant factor leading individuals to become Islamist terrorists. These findings could potentially dampen many of the fears that new media will result in an epidemic of homegrown jihadists and strengthens the position that anti-radicalization and counterterrorism efforts should be focused at the community and social network level.
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