Terrorist’s organizations believe they are nothing without the media. In fact without the media’s coverage, the acts and impacts of terrorism are wasted. As such, the media is perceived to be an essential instrument of terrorism in the sense that media provides terrorists with much needed publicity (which in-fact terrorists cannot survive with).
According to Bassam Abdi Rashid of Strategic Intelligence Service, terrorists manipulate mass media for both strategic and tactical purposes (information warfare and psyops). While media conveys the message to the audience, earns money and followers, terrorists reach their audiences and achieve their tactical and strategic objectives (the symbiosis of terrorists and media).
According to the Swedish Institute of Foreign Affairs Swedish Institute of Foreign Affairs non-state actor’s use of spectacular events to attract the attention of the media entices media to report terror events ‘spectacularly’ thus playing a central role in shaping the future of the country’s agenda in terrorism.
The most notable and disturbing fact is that media has significant influence on the fight against terrorism. This influence ranges from acknowledging terrorists or magnifying terrorist’s capacity to use violence to potentially giving the perpetrators actual political legitimacy (psychological effect amplification).
In Kenya Media hardly confirms details and most important ‘the facts’ about terror events from relevant authorities. This kind of media coverage of terror events leads to an increase in the influence of actors that use spectacular violence (the media is the link between the actors and the audience).
In Kenya journalists seeking relevance and to keep their jobs are publishing unverified information about terrorism. This only amplifies terrorism. It only makes sympathizers want to have physical engagements with the terrorists. This is a strategic and tactical loss for the Kenyan security agencies. “You cannot associate every criminal event with terrorism. We must differentiate crime from terrorism. Terrorism is politics, criminal activities aren’t”
Most terrorists calculate the consequences of their actions and the likelihood of attracting the attention of the mass media and the probability of gaining entry into the triangle of political communication (furthering the symbiosis of the terrorists and media).
This symbiosis is indeed worth examining in greater detail, as it is as vicious and dangerous as it is largely overlooked. However, it is simple to deny terrorists the ability to manipulate the mass media by use of counter-terrorism and CVE-based strategic and tactical communication (which media should use as official versions in their broadcasts and publications).