This report is from Phase 1 of GIFCT’s research network initiative. Please note that during this time the network was known as the Global Research Network on Terrorism and Technology (GRNTT) and was delivered by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
This paper outlines the evolving use of online platforms by pro-Daesh groups in Indonesia and the Philippines and how this has enabled extremists to develop and strengthen their networks. Social media and encrypted chat apps have shaped the development of extremism in both countries in four main areas: branding, recruitment, fundraising, and the increasing role of women. For groups in the Philippines, direct communication with Daesh headquarters via Telegram facilitated their rebranding as the face of Daesh in Southeast Asia, more than just a local insurgency group. In both countries, social media facilitates vertical and horizontal recruitment, but not lone-actor terrorism. Extremist use of the internet for fundraising is still rudimentary – sophisticated financial cybercrime is still virtually non-existent. In all these aspects, women’s roles have become much more visible. This paper briefly discusses government responses to online extremism, noting that there have been mixed results between Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesian authorities have undoubtedly been the more successful of the two regimes – both in terms of law enforcement and engagement with the tech sector – but its counterterrorism police now face the problem of how to judiciously use their powers in a democratic manner. The Philippines, meanwhile, is still at the starting line in terms of dealing with online extremism, with the military more accustomed to removing threats than trying to understand them.
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