The US government is battling a “new generation of terrorists” who are using social media to quickly and effectively spread their violent ideology far beyond the battlefields of Syria and Iraq to the streets of Europe and America, senior intelligence officials told Congress on Wednesday.
Unlike the centralized and secretive operations of Al Qaeda, the self-anointed Islamic State is successfully recruiting new members through aggressive use of social media, particularly Twitter, the officials said.
Estimates are that the terror group can generate up to 200,000 tweets per day based on the initial work of a couple thousand “core propagandists.”
As a result of this success, intelligence experts are scrambling to find ways to undercut the group’s growing appeal among a small, but significant number of US residents.
The US officials’ chief concern is that a call to action by terrorist leaders overseas could ignite a series of lone wolf terror attacks – similar to the alleged plan to behead police officers in Boston by a knife-wielding Muslim man who was shot dead Tuesday.
“During the past few months numerous statements from senior [Islamic State] leaders have called for lone-offender attacks against the West,” John Mulligan, deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, testified.
“We remain highly concerned by numerous people in the [US] homeland who are buying into [the terror group’s] distorted messaging,” he said. Christian Science Monitor