Al-Qaeda ‘learning social media from IS’

Al-Qaeda is learning from the way Islamic State is using the internet to radicalise young people and it has Australian authorities concerned.


The federal government is making social media a key focus in its bid to counter violent extremism and the narrative being pushed by terrorists.

The Attorney-General’s Department sees it as a “significant and enduring issue”, deputy secretary Katherine Jones told a Senate estimates hearing.

But it was not strictly associated with IS – also known as ISIL.

“We see other groups such as al-Qaeda learning from ISIL in terms of much more sophisticated use of social media,” she said on Wednesday night.

“Notwithstanding that ISIL itself may be experiencing some diminishing in its territorial control in Iraq and Syria, we consider the ongoing risks associated with that extremist material to be quite significant.”

Almost $12 million has been allocated towards countering violent extremism in 2016/17, boosted by a one-off funding injection.

Part of that money is being spent on helping NSW set up a support line for families to reach out if they have concerns about their children.

Ms Jones hopes it will be launched in the near future.

“It’s a really important initiative in order to have an alternative mechanism for families or friends of people who are radicalising … so people don’t have to go to law enforcement,” she said.

Attorney-General George Brandis told the hearing countering violent extremism is a relatively new area and the way programs are delivered has evolved across time and agencies.

Intervention programs have now been rolled out in all states and territories, with different techniques being used to help deradicalise young people or those at risk of being radicalised.

Ms Jones said the department was working on a national framework to assess the success of the programs, with evidence only anecdotal at this stage.

“The feedback we’re getting is that people are engaging with programs.”