This paper analyzes the feasibility and proposes a strategy for cooperation between the United States and Russia in the field of countering ISIL in the digital sphere. In doing so, we have identified female recruitment through digital networks as a niche area in which both countries may have overlapping interests and face comparable challenges. Our research consists of a literature review of existing academic studies regarding ISIL and terrorist network recruitment, conversations with both American and Russian experts in public diplomacy and international counterterrorism, an examination of recruitment narratives in the media, and a content analysis of Russian and American social media channels. Our research shows that the US and Russia may increase awareness of this issue among the public in both countries by highlighting stories of women who have survived life under ISIL and have escaped. It is crucial to create digital content that shares forms and methods of ISIL recruitment, and potential warning signs on social media, in simple and understandable language. We propose the creation and regular management of a micro-site and accompanying social media campaign from the communities that most need this information. The Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum commissioned this paper in a Track II diplomatic effort between young scholars in the United States and the Russian Federation.
About the Authors:
Amara Manoogian graduated in May 2017 with an M.A. in Global Communications from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. She holds a B.A. in International Affairs with a Security Policy concentration, also from the Elliott School. Amara studies public diplomacy and the Olympic Movement, as well as media coverage of cybersecurity. Ken-Ben Chao is a senior at Stanford University studying political science and history with interdisciplinary honors in international security studies. Daria Shcheglova is a Ph.D. Candidate at Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia, studying social philosophy and political science. She holds an M.A. in Economics from the Institute of Economics and International Economic Relations at the Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Her interests include nation-branding, Middle Eastern studies, and ethnic studies. Liya Khalikova is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in international political economy and development at Fordham University as a Fulbright Scholar. She holds a B.A. in political science from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. Her interests include political and economic development with a focus on the MENA region.