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ISIS Claims of Recruiters in Michigan May Be False, But the Group’s Social Media Presence Is Still A Major Concern

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Just a few days ago, an anti-Muslim attack in Garland, Texas quickly made media headlines, first because the attack was aimed at participants of a “Draw a Cartoon of Muhammad” contest; second because it didn’t take long for ISIS to claim responsibility for the deadly shooting.

So it wasn’t surprising when U.S. intelligence officials were very serious about investigating claims, made by ISIS members via social media messages, that the group has 71 soldiers stationed throughout 15 states in the U.S.

Michigan residents didn’t take the warning lightly either, since Michigan is reportedly one of the 15 states housing ISIS members who are tasked with finding new recruits.

By now, Americans are well aware that ISIS has been using social media to generate support and recruit new fighters — and wives for fighters — from across the globe. For months now, terrorism experts and government officials have stated that the U.S. government is falling behind the Islamic State in terms of cybersecurity.

As much as the government likes to spy on other high-profile world leaders and even its own citizens, one would think that the CIA would be thrilled at the prospect of tracking down ISIS strongholds and leaders through virtual footprints left on social media.

However, as Fox News noted back in March, ISIS has found a safe place on multiple social media platforms where it can promote its message of terrorism with very few repercussions.

As Hometown Life noted in a recent article, the fact that ISIS members can promote their messages of violence and oppression through social media could be even more dangerous than the possibility of ISIS members living in the U.S. (Which seems to be a false claim anyway, at the moment.)

The way that ISIS leaders use social media for advertising purposes is very different from how 84% of B2B marketers and nearly 100% of B2C marketers use Twitter, Instragram, and Facebook. In many cases, ISIS members post graphic photos and controversial messages knowing that the websites will remove the content — but it doesn’t matter if the content is removed, because news stations will pick up these stories and continue to spread the messages.

Another concern that Michigan lawmakers have noted, however, is that Michigan — particularly the Metro Detroit area — has a high population of residents with Middle Eastern backgrounds.

Racial and ethnic tensions are high in the Detroit area at the moment, causing many local leaders to step forward and emphasize that although ISIS’s threat should be taken seriously, residents must be careful not to profile an entire — and essential — community in the city.

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