Interrupting engagement with online extremist content: Utilising ‘noisy’ foreign fighters

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Terrorists' Use of the Internet


IOS Press


School of Arts and Humanities




Barnes, J., & Lucas, K. (2017). Interrupting engagement with online extremist content: Utilising ‘noisy’ foreign fighters. In M. Conway, L. Jarvis, O. Lehane, S. Macdonald & L. Nouri (Eds.), Terrorists' use of the internet: Assessment response (pp. 279-287). IOS Press. Available here


The problem of foreign fighters travelling to Iraq and Syria has drawn attention to the role the Internet plays in radicalisation and in the spreading of terrorist propaganda. The European Union and Member States have sought to prevent foreign fighters from leaving Europe by taking down violent online content and punishing foreign fighters. This chapter argues that although some foreign fighters pose a security threat to Europe and other countries around the world, not all foreign fighters are terrorists. We argue that returned foreign fighters that do not pose a security risk should play a role in counter-narrative strategies by engaging with potential foreign fighters. We show that returned foreign fighters have a credible voice and unique knowledge of the conditions under terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and this experience should be drawn upon to develop effective counter-narratives to counter violent extremism.

Additional Information

Paper presented at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Terrorist's Use of the Internet, Dublin, Ireland, 27-29, June 2016



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