Intelligence gathered confirms that Al Shabaab has majorly invested in establishing a strong social media presence to prey on their victims whom they successfully radicalize and recruit using these platforms.
As a sure way of getting their message to their targets, Al Shabaab is massively operating on Facebook and Twitter and even sharing videos on YouTube and Vimeo. These videos have content which create a disillusioned picture of the terrorists living a lavish lifestyle and “conquering” the world.
The militants operate with technical individuals who run these accounts on Twitter and Facebook to strategically acquire more followers. It is through Social media that terrorist managed to gain numbers and instill fear just before the Peshawar School attack.
Their strategy as identified by social media experts is used to “prepare” their targets just before they launch an attack (three-four months prior) and use the same medium to pass a message to new recruits on how they “successfully” attacked.
Who are the vulnerable Al Shabaab victims on Social Media?
Extremist organizations have specialized public relations strategies. Their use of Facebook and Twitter targets teenagers and women who are often at home.
Often, children under eight years of age are more vulnerable due to their exposure on such mediums. Al Shabaab and other militants use militant cartoons to familiarize them with the ideology.
The youth are on the other hand targeted through the militants’ tweets about daily life, the food they eat, and the militants even allow these platforms to be as interactive as possible.
How to Effectively Counter Al Shabaab Social Media Strategy
Al Shabaab through their social media platforms has promised money, lucrative lifestyle and a better future to attract victims of terror group.
By blogging, tweeting, and uploading short snippet videos with contents against these groups, there is a likely hood of countering their recruitment and spread of ideologies. Terrorist preach radical ideologies that contradicts Islam as a religion of peace.
Dealing with poverty, loneliness, a non-existent love life which has made individuals vulnerable to this group could also cut down on the number of online recruited individuals.
Strengthen the cyber laws to give powers to police authority to confiscate computers suspicious to broadcast radical content.
Government to offer more incentives to youth to enable them create a source of income and deviate from being potential victims for online terrorist recruitment.
In Kenya, Ministry of Devolution has initiated various development projects that is keeping thousands of youths particularly in informal settlements occupied.