But we should not be expressing such shock that ISIS T-shirts and merchandise are surfacing. This is simply a symptom of an inevitable evolution of the 21st century terrorist - a well educated, tech and media savvy, often young individual that have been influenced by the global power of Islamist groups, such as al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates across the MENA region.
When it comes to this global jihadist movement...groups like al-Qaida...want to reshape the global order. And it takes a certain amount of education, a certain amount of awareness, and frankly, a certain economic status to even think of such things.
|Primary school completion rate, total|
Source: World Bank
What is it that terrorist groups are able to harness in this media that well-equipped governments cannot? According to Dr. Aslan,
In the post-Arab Spring era, community mobilization is key to any movement. Social media was simply a means to this end in 2011, and it has not stopped serving as a tool for mobilization. One thing that most of the MENA region governments have certainly not been able to do is to reach out to the hearts and minds of their own people. The deep-rooted aspirations of these people are what led many of them to face bullets and beatings in order to overthrow dictators. One thing that the Wilson Center report shows is that the convening tactics around these same passionate emotions have since been tapped into by a much darker and stronger power.