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VOL. IX, Issue 3

Swarmcast How Jihadist Networks Maintain a Persistent Online Presence

Jihadist groups have used the opportunity created by the proliferation of social media platforms to create a persistent as well as ideologically cohesive presence for jihadist propaganda online which is intended to attract ighters and fundraisers to the cause. his article uses a range of big data techniques including network analysis, combined with examples of Jihadist communication strategy to identify the elements which have allowed groups to maintain a permanent presence for their content online, despite the eforts of western governments working with social media platform providers to prevent terrorist propaganda. he article examines the activity of the ‘media mujahedeen’ – the supporters of jihadist groups who disseminate propaganda content online. It shows that the media mujahideen group operates through a dispersed network of accounts which constantly reconigures much like the way a swarm of bees or lock of birds constantly reorganizes in mid-light. Drawing on the metaphor of a swarm this article introduces the netwar inspired concept of the user curated Swarmcast and demonstrates the role of the Swarmcast in maintaining the persistent presence of Jihadist content online. he article concludes that future policy to counter the dissemination of Jihadist content must challenge the Swarmcast on a strategic level. To be successful, strategies will need to take account of all three components of the Swarmcast when employing takedowns or other counter measures. his will mean focusing on strategic approaches to disrupting the system-wide emergent structures and collective behaviours rather than the tactical removal of individual accounts.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…