HAIFA, Israel, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Terrorist groups are turning to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to recruit supporters across geographical borders, an Israeli researcher says.
Gabriel Weimann of the University of Haifa says a number of Facebook groups are requesting "friends" to join and support Hezbollah, Hamas and other armed groups labeled as terror organizations by the West.
"Today, about 90 percent of organized terrorism on the Internet is being carried out through the social media. By using these tools, the organizations are able to be active in recruiting new friends without geographical limitations," Weimann said in a university release Monday.
The global power of social media has not been lost on terrorist organizations, Weimann said, and they are keenly interested in recruiting in the new media's various arenas such as Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, YouTube, Myspace and more.
"The social media is enabling the terror organizations to take initiatives by making 'Friend' requests, uploading video clips, and the like, and they no longer have to make do with the passive tools available on regular Web sites," he said.
Facebook's popularity is also being used by the terror organizations as a resource for gathering intelligence, Weimann said, and many countries including the United States, Canada and Britain have instructed their soldiers to remove personal information as a precaution in case al-Qaida is monitoring it.
"The most advanced of Western communication technology is, paradoxically, what the terror organizations are now using to fight the West," Weimann said.