In Brief

Terrorists tapping social media to raise money for jihad

Anonymity and extensive reach make online platforms ideal

Indonesia says it has identified an unlikely group of terrorist financiers: 45 maids and nannies working in Hong Kong. 

The group are radicalised Islamic State supporters who use social media to raise money for terror groups, reports Channel News Asia, citing comments by the head of the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK). 

“Their marriages with jihadists and the use of social network platform enable them to support the groups financially,” PPATK boss Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin reportedly said. “Considering the fact that more than 500,000 migrants from Indonesia work in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, these numbers may seem small, but the radicalisation of Indonesian maids and nannies working in East Asia is alarming.” 

Insurgents are increasingly turning to social media, drawn by its anonymity and wide reach, to drum up support and funding, says CNBC.

“That trend particularly applies to terrorist operations in conflict zones such as Syria,” Nolwenn Bourillon-Bervas, a terrorism analyst at Risk Advisory Group, told the broadcaster.

Hajjaj Fahd al-Ajmi, for example, a Kuwaiti national identified as a terror financier by the US and the UN, used Instagram to ask his 1.7million followers for funding, CNBC says. His account was shut down by the Facebook-owned platform 24 hours after the news channel inquired about it.

In other cases that do not involve direct pitches, people may not realise they are donating money to fund conflicts, believing rather that they are helping charities or other good causes, according to a recent report by the London-based Royal United Services Institute

“With social media usage unlikely to decrease, this tactic will only grow in the coming years,” the report says.

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