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Is ISIS Recruiting Americans With WhatsApp and Twitter?

ISIS is using social media savvy recruiters across the world to encourage young adults to join their mission.

Mubin Shaikh, who formerly recruited for the Taliban and now works for the Canadian government, told the International Business Times that ISIS’s internet presence smacks of Western influence.

“Westerners are involved, especially in the recruitment and social media dissemination of the whole ISIS brand,” he said. “Look at the videos they’re making. You think those people were trained in Syria and Iraq? Those people were trained in the West.”

He also said that the recruiters have a particular target in mind and it is often the disenfranchised and the converts.

“There were certain things we looked for,” Shaikh said of his time pounding the keyboard for the terrorist organization. “People who didn’t know the religion as much. People who were converts, because converts would probably have problems with their parents at home, so they were more likely to stay in our company.”

They also vet their candidates to make sure they are serious.

“If they can Skype you, they’ll Skype you. They want to see what you look like. You can’t be that secretive with them,” Shaikh said.  “If you know somebody, they’ll probably get in touch with someone from your place, whether you’re American, Canadian or British. They’ll ask you what area you’re from, what scholars you know.”

The tactics Shaikh described match closely with the accusations made against a New York man recently charged with recruiting for ISIS.

Mufid Elfgeeh, 30, of Rochester, is a Yemeni native and store owner who is believed to use both WhatsApp and Twitter to recruit university students.

In addition to mentoring the young recruits and encouraging them to be fighters, he also talked about the murder of fellow American citizens.

“If you kill him in the cause of Allah then you have defended our sanctities and avenged their blood,” Elfgeeh reportedly said to one potential recruit, hoping he would join a plot to kill U.S. soldiers.

Even though Elfgeeh is now in federal custody, though, Shaikh noted that catching one man will do little to stop the well-oiled social media fueled recruitment machine.

“It’s happening all over the place,” Shaikh said. “Are there ISIS supporters and sympathizers in New York? Of course. Without a doubt.”

Photo Credit: Police File Photo

H/t: IBT

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.