Innovation and terror: an analysis of the use of social media by terror-related groups in the Asia Pacific

The advent of social media platforms has created an online environment that transcends geographic and political boundaries as well as traditional mechanisms of state-based authority. The decentralised nature of social media and its ability to disseminate content anonymously and to reach wide audiences has afforded violent extremist groups opportunities to further propaganda, recruitment, radicalisation, fundraising and operational planning. This paper examines three violent extremist-related groups operating in Asia Pacific: one ‘classic’ terrorist – Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; one a dissident political party – Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh; and one a broad ethno-religious separatist movement – the Uyghurs in China. Each study highlights how the adoption of proactive social media strategies affords the group numerous opportunities to maximise their reach, impact and effect. However, the same technological specificities that generate these possibilities also expose the groups to new vulnerabilities and risks.

Tags: Abu Sayyaf, Bangladesh, China, Jamaat-e-Islami, Philippines, Social Media, Uyghurs, Violent extremism