It should come as no surprise to learn that terrorist groups are now widely utilizing the speed and connectivity of the internet to reach and recruit new members. A recent investigation by authors Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger has concluded that “as part of its quest to terrorize the world, ISIS has mastered an arena no other terrorist group has conquered before — the burgeoning world of social media.” As Stern and Berger noted, earlier terror groups like al Qaeda have not been as successful in advancing their twisted propaganda to a mass audience. NBC News has reported that a growing number of young Westerners are believed to have been duped and radicalized online, including Chicago-area teen Mohammed Hamza Khan and his 15-year-old brother and 17-year-old sister. Likewise, teens from Denver to Chicago have left their otherwise comfortable American lives in the hope of joining the ranks of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. While their motivations may vary there is one common denominator; most were recruited online. This is a disturbing trend that is in keeping with the overall changing nature of terrorism. Once understood to be limited to those of a particular nationality, religious, or political affiliation, global terrorism has rapidly evolved into a multifaceted dilemma. For example, the New York Times recently reported that foreigners make up half of ISIS’ fighting force, and an estimated 4,000 are from Western countries. While social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter try to combat these terrorist accounts by attempting to shut them down, they have unfortunately varying degrees of success in keeping such accounts deactivated. It is the very nature of the ease of accessibility associated with the internet that makes it attractive to terrorist groups. Interestingly, such increase in the use of technology for evil purposes should not surprise us. Many prophecy teachers point to the Book of Daniel for insight into our rapidly changing world. In one verse, the Lord told Daniel to seal up the words of his prophecy “even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). Thus, as we increase the sheer amount of knowledge available at the fingertips of everyone through their computers, we are witnessing what could have been described in the Bible over 2,000 years ago! We can readily observe that knowledge has certainly risen by leaps and bounds with the invention of the internet, just as the ability to misuse such technology has risen. People ask me all the time if this passage means we should avoid using computers and I always say “No.” Computers are a wonderful aspect of technology that the Lord has blessed us with so that we can use them – as we would any other tool – for His glory. As with any device, such as radio or television, there are excessive examples of abuse but the good can certainly outweigh the bad if we are careful and purposeful. As with any new technology we must pray for the wisdom to use it, and control its use in our homes, wisely. — PNL
PRAY: Pray that the efforts of terrorist groups to utilize the internet to recruit new members would be frustrated and would not prove to be effective. Pray for wisdom for parents and grandparents to oversee what their children are experiencing online and pray for discernment for others who can help counteract the message terrorist groups are spreading.