Edith Cowan University
International Cyber Resilience conference
Security Research Centre Conferences
Facebook jihad: A case study of recruitment
discourses and strategies targeting a Western female
Robyn TorokMacquarie University
Originally published in the Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 1st -
2nd August 2011
This Article is posted at Research Online.
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference FACEBOOK JIHAD: A CASE STUDY OF RECRUITMENT DISCOURSES AND STRATEGIES TARGETING A WESTERN FEMALE Robyn Torok
Recent years has seen a trend towards the increasing specificity of recruitment targets for global jihad. This
paper is a case study of the discourses used to recruit a Western female who originally subscribed to an anti-
government, anti-New World Order ideology. Categorising using grounded theory analysis found that female
recruiters tapped into the interest of their target subject and then shifted her towards sympathy and commitment
to radical Islam. This was achieved through media saturation of Western aggression against Muslims coupled
with an ideology that promotes the need to fight and resist. Subject material to which the recruit was directed
was carefully controlled and initially deemphasized the Qur'an in favour of mujahedeen narratives and the
teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki. Overall, the research supported a sophisticated narrowcasting strategy that was
carefully developed primarily by female recruiters. Keywords
terrorist recruitment, online recruitment, jihad, Anwar al-Awlaki, Facebook, discourses INTRODUCTION
There has been a large meta-strategic shift in recent years in the way terrorists groups like al Qaeda operate.
Specifically, this involves a shifting emphasis away from traditional training camps and a move towards
utilising the internet (Conway, 2006). In addition, terrorists have also expanded the variety of activities on the
internet. While beginning with aspects such as propaganda, fundraising and communications, they later
branched out into recruitment (Conway, 2006). It is this activity that is becoming an increasing concern to
security, with the next generation of threats according to Sageman (2008) coming not from those trained in
terrorist camps in the Middle East or Africa but from self recruited online `wannabes'. Potential recruits include
members of diasporas in the West (Bashar, 2011) as well as `White Moors' (Torok, 2010). `White Moors' are
self-recruited, non diaspora converts to jihad that are being specifically targeted by terrorist organisations due to
the potential ease in which they can travel and conduct operations (Torok, 2010). Overall, this reflects a trend
where terrorist groups such as al Qaeda are expanding their recruiting net to catch an increasing diverse range of
potential operatives and supporters.
Targeting female jihadists is a narrowcasting strategy that al Qaeda has been increasingly developing in recent
years using various strategies such as websites, online magazines and social media sites such as Facebook. In
fact it has been argued that Facebook has become one of the major online tools for terrorist recruitment. Bashar
(2011) gives the example of the assassination of Salman Taseer in Pakistan who was killed due to his opposition
to the Blasphemy laws. Immediately after this event there was a fan page for the killer with massive support that
although was quickly shut down, does illustrate the power of this medium. At the highest levels in the US,
Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano has called for increased levels of monitoring of groups using
the internet for recruitment and training (Nagesh, 2010).
This paper will explore a specific case study of a female `White Moor' that was being targeted and recruited via
discourses and media on the social media site Facebook. This will be done using a grounded theory approach in
order to gain insights into how discourses are used in this specific case study. First however, there is a need to
overview the rising trend of recruitment specificity, in addition to the way recruitment is conceptualised. CONCEPTUALSING RECRUITMENT STRATEGIES
Cyber recruiters are becoming more sophisticated and specific in their targeting approach (Sageman, 2008). As
one such example, in recent years that has been an increasing emphasis on the role of women in the jihadi
movement (Sutten, 2009). The work of Sue Mahan and Pamela Griset has categorised women's roles under four
dimensions: sympathisers, spies, warriors, and dominant forces (Sutten, 2009). What is particularly concerning
is the increasing emphasis of women in the more active and militarised roles as warriors or dominant leaders. In
an analysis of 46 incidents by women from 1969 to 2005, Davis (2006) noted that women in terrorism were
often cast in stereotypical, namely male support roles. Additionally, Davis (2006) saw an emerging trend that
women were becoming increasing involved in terrorism and that their strategic and tactical value was being
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference
increasingly recognised by leaders of the Jihadi movement such as the wife of Sheik Ayman Al Zawahiri.
Weimann (2010) argues that since 2004 there has been an increasing targeting of females for suicide bombings
using a variety of narrowcasting strategies that include websites specifically targeted at women as well as online
magazines. This year (2011) has seen the release of a new women's jihadi magazine Al-Shamikha, which is
currently written in Arabic (Dickson, 2011). Nonetheless, this paper will explore another example of recruitment
specificity that utilises online social media. Overall, this data along with recent analysis by other researchers
supports the increasing trend in recruitment specificity, such as the targeting of women (Mastarom & Yasin,
There are a wide range of recruitment strategies as well as different ways of classifying them. Categorisation
can range from a simple model of direct or indirect recruitment strategies (Rogan, 2006) to more sophisticated
models such as: infection (infiltrate and infect population), funnel (filter out recruits from a larger population
entry set) or net (a closed group where some respond and others resist) (Choueiki & Karasik, 2010). However,
before looking at some of these classifications it is important to identify general recruitment trends. First,
Weimann (2010) argues that there has been an increasing trend to use more refined narrowcasting strategies that
enable higher levels of specificity. These strategies are designed to better target specific population sub-strata.
Second, there has been an increasing emphasis by al Qaeda and other terrorists groups toward online self
radicalisation using websites, virtual magazines and social media (Choueiki & Karasik, 2010; Sageman, 2008).
Causal factors for radicalization can be classified under three main levels: external, social and individual ("The
EU Counterradicalization Strategy," 2008). Focus for this case study will be on the social level and the network
dynamics and discourses used to target an individual female who displays certain characteristics. In particular,
identity seekers have been found to be the largest group making up combatants. Identity seekers define
themselves according to the group to which they belong and which also governs their social interaction patterns.
Characteristic of identity seekers is the fact that they often face social isolation and alienation making them
more susceptible to the identity `politics' of extremist groups (Walker, 2011). Essentially, there is a clear
overlap and interaction between the social and individual levels with individuals demonstrating certain
psychological characteristics being more susceptible to the social dynamics of terrorist recruiting networks. METHODOLOGY
In order to understand the discourses of online social media recruitment, a case study of a targeted female
identified on an open Facebook group was conducted. Posts within this group and networked open groups were
followed for a period of three months including recruiters and the female jihad recruit who will be designated by
the code FJR. When the terminology `subject FJR' is used it should be noted that the usage of the word subject
is not in reference to being a subject of this study, rather it is in reference to the radical Islamists who viewed
FJR as the subject of recruiting.
It is important to note that due to ethical restrictions, data was only collected in the public domain. This in turn
posed a limitation in terms of verifying and cross checking identities and personal profiles. However, for this
particular study the focus was on the discourses used rather than the need to verify the identity of sources.
The study used a grounded theory approach and was inductive in nature. Open comparative coding was used in
order to identify core categories and themes (Holton, 2007; Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006). In addition,
meanings were questioned to avoid taken for granted assumptions (Mills, et al., 2006). Additionally, data was
cross checked within like open group pages and searched to ensure no new themes emerged and hence data
saturation was achieved (Holton, 2007). Dimensions of axial coding (Goulding, 1999) were incorporated in
order to determine possible underlying causal factors. In addition, recruitment of FJR took place along a time
axis which was critical in determining emerging themes and categories. Categories were sought out both within
and across this time axis to look for any reoccurring or disconfirming patterns. Overall, this method allowed for
a thorough investigation of the recruitment phenomenon.
In addition to coding, ethnographic style observations were critical in determining key patterns especially along
the time axis. However, observations were also used in conjunction with coding. This was done in the form of
added field notes during the course of data collection. Many repeated observational patterns were found and
these were triangulated against the open group pages. Results will be presented using the major categories and
themes that emerged. All results will use pseudonym codes to ensure adherence to the National Statement on
Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) RESULTS
During the study a number of major and minor themes emerged. However, due to space, focus will be restricted
to major categories. It should also be noted that in all figures and tables, any spelling errors or abbreviations in
posts have been left unedited and uncorrected.
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference Engaging the interest of subject FJR
This was the first major theme along the time axis. Interestingly, FJR was discovered on what can be classified
as an `anti-government, anti-New World Order' open group page available in the public domain. This page
stood out due to significant numbers of radical Islamist members on the page that consisted of some males but
the majority were stated as being females (this cannot be verified). A clear trend was quickly evident that the
radical Islamist members were quickly willing to engage with FJR on her terms using her worldview (Figure 1).
This also included using well known anti-Western government proponents such as Alex Jones. The second
important phase was to link the New World Order (NWO) with not only America, but more importantly Israel.
Essentially, radical Islamists sought to shift the epicentre of the NWO to Israel.
[I hate the NWO, they want to make us into machines] [FJR0201]
[The illuminati work to make people disbelievers of God and loose their spirituality. Not only because they want to control
you, but rather, they want to make you disbelievers. They want to bring their ideology. Power and government is thus being
used to bring their NEW WORLD ORDER] [GH0201]
[Don't be Fooled and Watch These Trends over the Next DECADE:
- Upward spiraling Inflation
- US Dollar Falling...(long list follows
All has been perfectly planned and put into action by the NWO, and the signs are all out in front of you......] [AJS0201]
[None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe] [Quote posted by AJS0201]
Source: Anti- government, anti-New World Order group page Figure 1. Engaging FJR using her discourse
Coupled with a challenging of Western governments was also a challenging of Western spirituality. Not only
was a lack of spirituality highlighted but also the challenging of Western Christian belief which at its heart was a
model of the Trinity and the Divinity of Jesus. One female radical Islamist coded AJS is the primary person who
engaged and interacted with FJR on this issue. Interestingly, support for the arguments of AJS that challenge
Western Christianity came from three sources, the Old Testament, Christian New Testament and the Qur'an
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but
one. (1 Corinthians 8:4)
Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like
unto Him. (The Noble Quran, 112:1-4) [AJS0215] directed towards FJR
Source: Anti- government, anti-New World Order group page Figure 2. Challenging Western Christian discourse Shifting identities and conversion
Attempting to shift the identity of FJR and achieve conversion was a major theme that also incorporated a
number of subthemes or subcategories that emerged when coding. All were important in shifting FJR towards
not only conversion but also a path of radicalisation. Once FJR was engaged and determined that she was open-
minded she was asked to join other open Islamic groups that while not overtly radical, did indicate a disposition
toward radicalism. Not only is the discourse itself important here but also observations of the process. FJR was
welcomed and `swarmed' by many group members who were willing to interact, answer questions and share the
`truth'. Members demonstrated patience and persistence. Open-mindedness was seen as a virtue, while members
showed kindness to FJR to help her embrace her new group identity (See Table 1). Table 1. Key categorisations in achieving conversion Category Sample Post
[MashaAllaah its so good to see that ur so openminded, unbiased and uninfluenced by that zionist media
that is soo against the Haqq.] [BA0503]
[Of course you have ur own free will and can see the Haqq for urself in sha Allaah.. just keep looking for
it but hurry up coz we never know when we breath our last] [BA0503]
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference
[ur free to decide whether you think thats the Haqq or not. Remember allah says" there is no compulsion
in religion" ... so you can never be forced into accepting Islam] [AD0506]
[My sweet FJR you are always welcome to ask questions in the search for Hagg] [AJS0612]
in the search
[Honey let me know when you start to see the truth] [JP0614]
[You need to promise to guide others in the search for truth] [AJS0615]
[Posting such links may means others think you are extreme or terrorist wannabe. For me this is an
honour] [JP0616] Focus on discourse of oppression and injustice against Muslims
Oppression against Muslims and the promotion of grievances was perhaps the most significant theme found on
the Islamic group page. What was also interesting here is the interfacing with other forms of media including
Western media. Posts included graphic photos of victims including children, many YouTube videos and news
stories of war crimes or abuses were a common topic. Well before attempts to convert FJR, she was exposed to
many of these posts within the group. Examples are given in Table 2. These are all from Western media sources
and were a large part of posts that all members including FJR were constantly exposed to. Clearly, such use of
media is designed to impact the affective dimension of members of the group. The danger herein is that when
members do go to a YouTube link they also have the opportunity to follow similar stories/videos.
What was also salient about this category was the volume of these posts. Essentially, recruiters and
sympathizers achieved a form of media saturation where stories were at the very least posted daily. At times
they were much more frequent than this and came in swarms as frequently as every ten minutes. These posts did
achieve their goal stimulating numerous responses of anger and condemnation. Table 2. Media links on Facebook highlighting oppression Media type Link and Details
- Rolling Stone
Story of two US soldiers who hunted down and killed 2 Afghan `civilians'. Although the status of the
men killed is in question, the methods used including use of video and mutilation of corpse was not.
Sixth U.S. soldier implicated in murder of Afghans
media - Reuters
Sixth U.S. soldier charged with direct involvement in the murder of unarmed Afghan civilians
CNN: Israeli soldiers sexually abused Palestinian children
Interview about the alleged abuse of Palestinian children by Israel soldiers during an interrogation.
US soldier speaks the truth - war crimes exposed "please share"
YouTube of US
Madeleine Albright Defends Mass-Murder of Iraqi Children (500,000 Children dead)
story Discourse of Islam as a fight against oppression and corruption
Coupled with the discourse of oppression is the need to take up the fight against all these forms of oppression
and injustice. This form of discourse was used in the early stages of interaction with FJR and paralleled her anti-
NWO beliefs. Such discourse emphasises the need to take action. Additionally, there is also the criticism of
what are seen as `soft' forms of Islam that fail to take action (See Figure 3). It is this discourse that feeds off
media representing oppression and these two aspects combine in order to radicalise the target FJR.
[....May Allah guide me and you to the absolute truth free from unjust, tyranny, corruption, May Allah bless us both in our
fight for freedom.] [AJS0702]
[Muhammad was known as both Nabiy al-Rahma (The Prophet of Mercy) as well as Nabiy alMalhama (The Prophet of
[We cannot tolerate any kind of insult or oppression against Islam or its followers and we have to take action] [SA0745]
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference
["O Muslims - For how much longer? An outcry to the Ummah? There should be NO MORE SOFT ISLAM: O MUSLIMS!
How will you Deny the call of ALLAH?"] [HK0789]
[..now is NOT the time to hand out brochures and cakes..; Now is the time to handout 7.62x39mm bullets] [SFA0755]
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page Figure 3. Discourse encouraging Islam as a fight against oppression Controlling the message
Following the apparent successful conversion (cannot be verified) of FJR to Islam after an observed period of
four weeks, one important aspect was very clear, the need to control the message given to the `new' convert.
Rather than being encouraged to read and study the Qur'an, the Tahweed was recommended as the starting
point. This document emphasises not only the unity and oneness of God but also the unity of Muslims. In
addition, subject FJR was given links to a number of radical Islamic websites as shown in Figure 4. Of particular
emphasis were mujahedeen narratives that included martyrs (Figure 4).
http://www.ansar1.info - News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen, Books,
Videos, Files & Various Other Benefits For The Muslimeen
http://kavkazcenter.com/ - (Mainly News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen)
http://shahamat.info/english/ - (Mainly News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen)
http://www.jhuf.net/index.php - (Mainly News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen)
http://theunjustmedia.com/ - (Mainly News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen)
http://www.dinhaqq.info/vb/... - (Mainly News Of The Ummah & Mujahideen)
http://caravansofmartyrs.at... - (Stories & Biographies Of The Martyrs)
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page. Links posted by mentor of FJR Figure 4. Some of the websites to which FJR was directed Reference to key terrorist figures
In addition to the above links, subsequent posts also made regular reference to key terrorist leaders Osama bin
Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, viewing bin Laden as a martyr and al-Awlaki as a great Islamic leader. Subject
FJR was especially encouraged to study the work of al-Awlaki and was given many posts with links to his
videos on YouTube.
Beginning with bin Laden, he is viewed as a martyr who was not afraid to speak the truth. However, this is not a
view that is shared by all Muslims and radical Islamists are very critical of other Muslims who support the death
of bin Laden. Figure 5 is a post where radical Islamists respond to a post by American Muslims that support the
bringing of bin Laden to justice. The impassioned responses reflect the importance of bin Laden as a symbolic
figure of the struggle of Muslims.
[ADAMS joins the nation and the world to thank the brave men and women serving in the military and intelligence fields
whose work to secure our nation have now brought the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden the perpetrator of the 9/11
attacks, to Justice. We hope his death will bring some relief to victims. www.theamericanmuslim.org]
[Sickening disgraceful shameful I could go on for hours, what a bunch of scum!!!... how a Muslim can rejoice of the killing of
his fellow Muslim (no matter how sinful he could be) by the hand of their common enemy?] [HFD0813]
[O ye who believe! Take not for friends (awliyaa) unbelievers rather than believers] [PG0813]
[O American... I will tell you today about a man whose story is like a legend... and he is a legend indeed... a legend that was
witnessed by the whole world...] [HGB0813]
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page Figure 5. Responses to Muslim support of bin Laden's death
The role of al-Awlaki played a very important role in the recruitment of FJR. Radical Islamists targeted subject
FJR with the works of al-Awlaki before her apparent conversion to Islam. Such an early introduction to the
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference
teachings of such a radical figure demonstrates the confidence that extremists have in the power of al-Awlakis's
discourse (Figure 6). Radical Islamists are happy to promote al-Awlaki as an Islamic preacher and scholar who
is highly respected amongst the mujahedeen.
[Yes, hes a scholar.. you must be knowing about him. Hes a quite famous "Terrorist" Hes my fav scholar MashaAllaah he
always speaks the Haq and ull never see him speaking anything out of his will. Hes the only man i know after osama bin laden
twho speaks the Haqq(truth)... start with "the hereafter series" .. that'll give you a precise description about the purpose of life
and queries pertaining to the afterlife in sha Allaah] [RD0809]
[Yea Anwar Al awlaki is an islamic preacher who has viewpoints about the revival of the islamic nation and religion.]
[pls do.. things might come to light on ur side of the world/faith after listening to him and few other islamic scholars,
[The inspirational sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki (H), who is an American citizen residing in South Yemen among the mujahidin of
the AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).
He is probably the most wanted man since the martyrdom of sheikh Usama (R). He was named 'the Osama of the net' due to
his famous blog where he preached haqq n Jihaad.] [HFD0811]
[Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki Increasingly Seen as the Next Bin Laden.Subha'allah - that is so true! People are saying that he's the
next bin laden of the internet... May Allah swt protect the Muslims on haq and guide them all] [JK0818]
Anwar al Awlaki: 44 ways of supporting Jihad
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page Figure 6. Sample posts directed toward FJR promoting Anwar al-Awlaki Discourse of unity
As previously stated, subject FJR was first directed toward the Tahweed. This concept of the oneness of God
was critical in challenging Western Christian notions of the Trinity, especially for this particular case study.
However, it was observed that this was only part of the picture, another key theme that emerged in the discourse
of radicalization was unity amongst Muslims. Specifically, Tawheed al Itabaa, as mentioned in one particular
post stresses the unity in following the prophet Muhammad. This discourse integrates with the fight against
oppression and calls for all Muslims to unite in this struggle. Many posts not only call for Muslims to join this
fight but to show unity in doing so (See Figure 7).
Nevertheless, despite such discourse there was still evidence of many divisions amongst Islamic extremists.
These included the loyalties of the Pakistan army in relation to Islam, the role of certain Western anti-
government figures in relation to their position on Israel and even the position of al Qaeda. In fact certain
Iranian Muslims were openly critical of al Qaeda arguing that they were originally lined with the US and do
nothing to support the cause of the Palestinians. As a response to such heated debates, one of FJR's `mentors'
tried to achieve unity (See last post in Figure 7). However, within the group, some members quickly left
demonstrating that group identity within Islamic extremism may not necessarily be as broad and robust as it is
projected to be.
[As Muslims we must follow Tawheed al Itabaa and be united in our fight as followers of the great prophet] [TH0602]
[Surah Al An'aam Ch 6 v. 159 keep away from those who bring division within Islam] [posted by TG0601]
[I find it shocking that any Muslim would have the "audacity" to make du'aa for the Muslims suffering around the World, yet
are ever so eager to distance themselves from the courageous ones seeking to change our condition! Let alone call them
"Extremists" or "Terrorists"! Wake up! You are Muslims! You believe in One God!] [PG0627]
[OUR PRESENT SITUATION NEEDS OUR UNITY TO ELEVATE ALLAH'S WORD: "LA ILAHA ILLALLAH"]
In response to heated debate about abuses of Pakistani Army:
[as muslims we have manners. no cursing againts one another pls... and as we all BELIEVE AND HAVE FAITH in
ALLAH.... pls, dont get too carried away... we are still brothers and sisters in islam.] [AJS0710]
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference Figure 7. Posts calling for unity amongst Muslims Martyrdom
Although no specific demands or even suggestions were made to subject FJR about martyrdom, she was
exposed to a wide range of propaganda, links and posts promoting the virtues of martyrdom (See Figure 8).
Once again, these were very much related to narratives of grievance and oppression. However, it should also be
noted in the context of this case study, martyrdom while promoted by female radical Islamists also showed a
corresponding discursive traditional position of the male as the martyr and the female as the supporter. Over
time this may change, however, at this stage there were no overt signs of promoting direct female involvement
in suicide bombings.
[Sacrifice comes in many shapes, forms and levels, it can be performed through many different channels, but there is no
doubt that the sacrificing of one's soul for the sake of Allaah in order to defeat His enemies and support Islaam is the very
highest level. This is of course Shahaadah, or martyrdom. The Prophet sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam] [IH0715]
[O Muslims! Achieving noble and lofty objectives require enormous sacrifices in proportion. There can be no doubt that the
higher an objective is, the greater its sacrifice must be.] [IH0414]
[The caravan of the martyrs Do you hear the calling of the ones that past before you? The call of bravery and succession of
everlasting smiles. They raced for the front line, eager to seek their lord's face, they divorced the dunyah to flap their wings
around the heaven's gates with honorable grace, they wanted a beautiful ending not one of disgrace.] [AJS0614]
[The Virtues Of Martyrdom - Virtue of the certificate
1) Noble objectives require enormous sacrifices.
2) Sacrificing one's soul is the ultimate sacrifice.
3) The status of the martyr and the virtues of martyrdom.
4) Examples of martyrs from among the companions of the Prophet sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam.
5) Examples of contemporary martyrs.
6) A call to support the Muslims in Palestine and a stern warning against forsaking them.
7) The deceitful Western Media and its twisting of facts.] [Posted by JM0203]
Source: Semi radical Islamic group page Figure 8. Posts relating to the discourse of martyrdom DISCUSSION
This case study supported the findings of Weimann (2010) that a narrowcasting strategy exists that is becoming
more specific. Nonetheless, this study found that the narrowcasting strategy was more sophisticated with the
targeting of specific interests, in this case a sense of alienation with Western governments and the belief in
exploitation and conspiracy. Such starting beliefs in this case made it easier to target the subject FJR.
Researchers have found that group identity is a critical dimension in the recruiting process (Guadagno,
Lankford, Muscanell, Okdie, & McCallum, 2010; Walker, 2011). This particular case study supports this view;
however, what is unique is the starting point.
The female in this case study already had a group identity that shared many attributes with the jihad movement
and as such was a logical target for recruiters. A strong disaffection for Western governments and a belief in the
fact that such governments are oppressive and have an alternative agenda strongly parallels the discursive
radical Islamist agenda that Muslims are the subject of persecution and abuse by Western governments. Hence,
recruiters started with subject's FJR initial discourse on the NWO and shifted this to an anti-Israeli, pro jihadist
perspective. In addition, recruiters also challenged Western Christian perspectives of the Trinity in order to shift
FJR towards Islam.
Congruent with the other research findings, this case study supported that initial contact was low pressure,
supportive and commended an open-minded attitude (Guadagno, et al., 2010). Nonetheless, persistence and a
willingness to surround and support the potential recruit were also evident. Patience was shown with questions
asked by FJR. In response, there was also a development of the radical attitudes of FJR with support shown for
radical postings. In contrast with findings by researchers such as Guadagno, et al. (2010), FJR was introduced to
fairly radical Islamic material quite early in her contact with radical Islamists. Nevertheless, the distinction does
need to be made that this particular female FJR already demonstrated radical anti-government views and
appeared to embrace the radical material provided.
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference Figure 9. Model of discourse used in recruiting subject FJR
It also needs to be made clear that such radical material was framed within a broader context of what can best be
described as `media saturation' of news stories of Western aggression towards Muslims. Interestingly, most of
these actually came from Western sources and well established news outlets such as Reuters and CNN. This
demonstrates the interfacing power of Facebook and the ability to post videos from YouTube as well as links to
other news sites. Use of media to propagate the belief of Western aggression against Muslims is supported by
others (Guadagno, et al., 2010). Such propaganda targets the affective dimension and is particularly salient with
females given the strong responses to such postings. In congruence with the findings of Sutton (2009), focus
was on getting females to first commit to the ideological cause before any specific demands are asked.
Due to the short term nature of the research, no specific demands were made of FJR, yet she did appear
committed to the ideological cause. However, it is important to note that the females that were `mentoring' FJR
uploaded many posts on the virtues of jihad and martyrdom. Their images also supported a more direct role in
the jihad movement with female figures holding weapons a common image and theme. Mentors strongly
supported the teachings on Anwar al- Awlaki supporting the notion that he is one of the most critical figures in
the online jihad movement.
Overall, an analysis of the major themes reveals strong discursive interrelationships. These have been combined
into a model for the discursive recruitment of subject FJF (Figure 9). Subject FJR's anti-government discourse
is targeted, embraced and redirected towards the oppression of Muslims and the need for Muslims to unite and
resist. The path of resistance is also directed towards the discourse of jihad and in particular the writings of al-
Awlaki. It is however, important to note that this is a context specific model based on the findings of a single
case study. Nonetheless, it serves as a useful comparative model for other researchers. CONCLUSION
In conclusion, this case study demonstrated the use of a specific narrowcasting strategy that targeted specific
belief systems. In congruence with other research, the affective dimension was targeted both early and regularly
in order to shift the target subject using a low pressure, patient and yet persistent approach. In contrast to other
studies, the target subject was exposed to radical material quite early which in this particular case was effective
given the starting anti-government beliefs. Overall, this study highlights that social media sites such as
Facebook are powerful recruiting tools that can interface with other media sources especially YouTube.
Together, these media sources effectively target the affective dimension of recruitment targets as well as better
control the message and ideas that potential recruits are subject to such as the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki. It
Proceedings of the 2nd International Cyber Resilience Conference
also demonstrates the increasing role that females are playing in the role of recruiting and training other females
as well as their expanding embrace of jihad ideologies including martyrdom. REFERENCES
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