A UN panel is calling for internet and social media companies to respond to the exploitation of their services by al-Qaida and other extremist groups who use the web to recruit fighters and spout “increasingly horrific propaganda.”
The panel recommended in a report circulated that these companies brief the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida, its affiliates and the Islamic State group on measures they are taking to prevent such exploitation.
“A worrisome trend over the past year has been the growth of high-definition digital terror: the use of propaganda, primarily by (the Islamic State group) and its sympathizers, to spread fear and promote their distorted ideology,” the panel of experts monitoring sanctions against extremist groups and individuals said in the report to the Security Council.
It said the scale of digital activity linked to the Islamic State group, and to a lesser extent some al-Qaida affiliates, has strategic implications for how the threat from extremists will evolve in the coming years, “not least among the diverse, dispersed and not necessarily demobilized diaspora of foreign terrorist fighters.”
In recommending that internet and social media companies brief the sanctions committee, the panel said: “The scale of the digital threat linked to radicalization, together with the need for concerted action on countering violent extremism, calls for further action by the Security Council.”
The internet’s impact on extremist groups is one facet highlighted in the report which covers the global threats posed by al-Qaida, its affiliates, and the Islamic State group.
The panel notes that while these groups pose a threat to international peace and security, “they still kill and injure far fewer people than wars, disasters or road-traffic accidents.”
Nonetheless, it said al-Qaida, its associates and the Islamic State group still kill thousands, and in recent months the human cost of attacks by these extremist groups “has been enormous.” They have carried out major bombings, assassinations and exploited several million people in Iraq, Syria and to a lesser but no less significant extent in parts of Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, the report said.