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Local terrorism analyst uses social media to monitor Islamic State

Source: WCSC Source: WCSC
CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) -

A local terrorism analyst uses social media to track Islamic State activity. 

Michael Smith II is the chief operating officer and co-founder of Kronos Advisory. 

Smith specializes in the influence operations of Salifi jihadist groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. He says most of his work focuses on tracking the Islamic States influence operation online.

"Since June 2014 the group that has been managing the most aggressive, as the casework indicated, the most effective global recruitment program of any terrorist group in history," Smith said.

It's using social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to do it. The Islamic State uses the sites to push out links to propaganda. Smith uses Telegram messenger to track some of  their interactions.

"There's a real problem for national security when it comes to the availability of these technologies by terrorist groups like the Islamic State or al-Qaeda," Smith said.

He says when terror attacks happen the Islamic State often expresses enthusiasm from the news on social media. This happened following the Orlando nightclub shooting, the Minnesota stabbings and most recently the New York bombing. Smith was about a mile away when it happened last Saturday.

He says it is likely for the Islamic State to claim responsibility for the New York bombing after findings in the suspect's journal reference an Islamic State leader who is now dead.

"The more blood of westerners it can put on their hands the more powerful it looks than al-Qaeda and with that the better able it will be to attract more support," Smith said.

It's important to note that just because the jihadist group shows enthusiasm for an attack, it doesn't always mean that group is the one behind it.

"If it's just random mass violence they will promote information about that because they are trying to stimulate a will to go out and do similar things," Smith said.

According to Smith, there's a need for Congress to introduce regulations within the social media industry that will deter the use of these sites. He believes it hasn't happened possibly because of the issue of freedom of speech and privacy online.

He says people are able to use social media through Virtual Private Networks (VPN). This can make it difficult for investigators to identify a person's physical location. Smith says social media sites are capable of implementing policies that could prevent people from assessing accounts and pushing their content when a VPN is active.

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