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News | Dec. 4, 2022

Virtual and Physical Realities: Violent Extremists’ Recruitment of Individuals Associated with the US Military

By R. Kim Cragin Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Joint, Coalition partners conduct STAFFEX 20-2
Photo By: SSgt Christopher Maldonado
VIRIN: 200210-F-MP604-1035

In an era of social media, the lines between physical and virtual realities have become blurred. This is especially evident in recruitment activities by violent extremists. This article compares five case studies from the white power and militia movements to learn how extremists attract new members. The findings suggest that recruitment occurs through iterative interactions in virtual and physical spaces. These spaces are not isolated to a single movement; individuals instead move between them. The findings did not reveal a divergence between civilian vs military recruits. Nevertheless, more research is needed on the extent to which veterans recruit their peers.

Read the rest in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism →

Dr. Kim Cragin is the Distinguished Research Fellow for Special Operations and Counterterrorism at the National Defense University’s Center for Strategic Research (CSR). The views expressed are the authors own and do not reflect those of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.