Foreign Office must challenge wannabe jihadis on Twitter, says Qulliam foundation

Media Editor

The authors of a far-reaching report on the Internet and Islamic extremism have called on the Foreign Office to take a more active role in Twitter debates and challenge views which encourage young Britons to participate in jihad.

Quilliam, the counter-extremist organisation, also called for schoolchildren to be given lessons in “digital literacy and critical consumption” so that they can better appraise the information they receive via social media.

In its report, Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter It, Quilliam criticised the British government’s “counterproductive” policy of tackling the problem by simply shutting down websites.

“Censorship has become a means for them to show that they doing more than they actually are,” said Ghaffar Hussain, one of the authors of the report, which found that blocking sites did “not represent a real solution to countering online extremism” because jihadis took their messages to other parts of the web.

The report called for the British Government to establish a new vehicle on social media “that clarifies government policies and debunks propaganda”.

Mr Hussain told The Independent that the Foreign Office should follow the US State Department and adopt a more proactive strategy on Twitter. “The British Government needs to recognise that young people get their information from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube,” he said. “Extremists are monopolising the narrative of the online debate on issues such as Syria – where is the British Government engaging with them and giving them other options?”

The report highlighted the importance of “counterspeech” messaging on Islamic websites which challenge terrorism using “theologically-rooted counter messaging”.

But it said sites such as Islam Against Extremism and Radical Middle Way "could benefit from better content production and upkeep” and called for such “grassroots initiatives” to be given more public and private sector training and funding to help them become more popular. “In the current environment young people are more likely to frequent sites of a more extremist orientation since these sites not only target the youth directly… but also offer a firm sense of identity and deal with difficult topics.”

The authors rejected the popular notion of the “lone wolf” terrorist radicalised by the Internet, saying that in almost all cases the individuals had established contact with like-minded people offline prior to conducting research on the web. “The Internet is not creating radicals in isolation from the real world,” said Hussain.

In compiling its report Quilliam looked at the online activities of 30 Islamic extremist groups with a presence in the United Kingdom or France. It noted that Boko Haram, the group responsible for the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, has a dedicated Facebook page with more than 7,500 likes.

The authors found that the most popular Jihadist clips on YouTube were so-called “martyr hailing” films in praise of jihadis who had been killed, with clips of suicide bombings being the second most popular category. It also highlighted the popularity of Salafi Media UK, linked to the Al-Mujahiroun extremist group which was banned by the Blair government. It’s most successful film, “I Used To Be a… Gangster!” in which a former gunman describes his conversion to Islam inside prison, has had nearly 20,000 views.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£19200 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Physics Teacher

Main Teacher Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Physics Teacher January 201...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: General Cover Teachers required ...

Maths Teacher

Main Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Maths Teacher Required This Catholi...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?