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Crowdsourcing Terrorism: Utopia, Martyrdom and Citizenship Reimagined

Jennifer Yang Hui

Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, 2017, vol. 4, issue 3, 337-352

Abstract: The role of social media in aiding terrorist attacks worldwide has been widely discussed among counterterrorism officials and academics. Since 2014, the idea of ‘crowdsourced terrorism’, whereby the Islamic State (IS) outsourced the conduct of attacks to their followers and attempted to attract them to Syria, has been popularly used by Western policymakers. This article critically examines the phenomenon of crowdsourcing and the IS’s online appeal in the case of Indonesia. The participant–curator crowdsourcing model outlined by Laurie Philips and Daren Brabham explains the online appeal of the IS, with social media facilitating the IS’s establishment of the relationship with Internet users in faraway countries such as Indonesia and allowing them to participate in the making of the IS brand. Participatory culture therefore encourages an e-supporter’s faith in the importance of their individual contribution and social connection that transcend offline realities in areas such as citizenship. IS opinion leaders work alongside online supporters to craft the meaning of martyrdom and imagination of citizenship through social media posts about life in the Caliphate. The land of Syria is imagined simultaneously as paradise for those who take their faith seriously as well as the venue for the Islamic equivalent of Armageddon. Hijrah (jihad by emigration) to Syria and martyrdom are represented as obligatory in the quest for equalization of power and freedom from slavery of those who are against the establishment of the Caliphate. Crowdsourced imaginations of the IS have had implications in several areas of policymaking. The article will discuss the implications of online imaginaries on IS’s approaches to militancy in its operations, Indonesian decision makers’ debate to revoke the citizenship of those who had travelled to IS and for the Indonesian military in its quest for expansion of their role in counterterror operations.

Keywords: Technology; crowdsourcing; security; religion; social network (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/2347797017731955

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