It's not just the sharing of extremist material that lures the thrill seeking 'wannabe' jihadists to flee their own country to join Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a new UN report suggests that families are being lured by the promise of financial support from Islamic State:
"Attracted by the promise of stipends, furnished apartments and free medical care as described by friends over Facebook and Twitter."
Meanwhile, governments are being accused of not doing enough to prevent terrorism with the only effective global response to be preventing radicalization in the first place.
According to Gerard van Bohemen, Chair of the Security Council Committee on Al-Qaeda:
"Social media has also been used as a vehicle for radicalizing and recruiting fighters…Tackling the misuse of the Internet for and by fighters is essential, but complicated by legal, privacy, data and regulatory variations among Member States."
Social Media and Social Issues: a Source of Radicalization
The report is calling for all UN Member States to work better with Internet service providers and social media companies "to disrupt the use of Internet and social media by those associated with Al-Qaeda to deliver propaganda and communicate with and recruit foreign terrorist fighters".
A recent case in Britain involving the recruitment of a 16 year old girl to join Islamic State was foiled by an undercover newspaper investigation. The paper reported that the teenager had intended to travel to the Syrian border via Turkey and Switzerland to become a jihadi bride. Her older sister, already in Syria, took up a conversation with a journalist posing as a 16 year old girl and tried to convince the reporter to accompany her sister.
The paper alerted Scotland Yard and counter-terrorism officers were called in.
The British government is hoping to fast-track a new counter-terrorism bill to stop extremists trying to radicalize young people, on and offline. It comes as growing numbers of teenagers; particularly, young girls traveling to Syria to join Islamic State militants.
Ah yes. While ISIS offers carrots, let's threaten youngsters with bigger (citizenship) sticks. That'll stop radicalization! #lateline— Mike Fitzsimon (@MikeFitzAU) May 26, 2015
It's thought there are around 60 British women and girls who have gone to Iraq and Syria. UK Authorities believe that the teenagers are initially groomed online on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook with detailed instructions sent via encrypted smart phone apps.
"Excluding foreign terrorist fighters from social media is difficult," the UN report says, "but the fact that ISIL supporters sought to establish their own social media platform 'Khelafabook', in 2015 may be a sign of success."
In 2014, Twitter reportedly suspended more than 1,000 accounts linked to IS. The UN report also cites Facebook as being "widely used by foreign terrorist fighters, both to post extremist content and to attempt to sell ISIL merchandise."
Hundreds of Facebook accounts have been deleted for sharing extremist material.
The number of foreign terrorists in the world has jumped dramatically in the last year, swelling from a few thousands to more than 25,000 in the last decade. Between the middle of 2014 and March 2015, the numbers increased by 71 percent.
"The rate of flow is higher than ever and mainly focused on movement into the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq, with a growing problem also evident in Libya," says Gerard van Bohemen's UN report.
"Whether motivated by ideology, greed or thirst for adventure," Gerard can Bohemen suggests that people have been traveling to other states to fight for unaffiliated groups for "centuries". However, "the problem has become an urgent global security matter."
The issue, according to the UN report, has been on the global agenda for several years "with the 2013 annual counter-terrorism meeting organized by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation leading the way in identifying foreign terrorist fighters as a global strategic issue."
But it appears the global issue of foreign terrorists is also a local one, with the chance to live in a furnished apartment with access to free medical care becoming a catalyst for leaving one of the 100 UN Member States and traveling to Syria.