Islamic State recruitment process likened to grooming techniques of paedophiles
Security analysts say Muslim parents need more help to stop their children becoming radicalised over the internet, and have likened the online jihadist recruitment process to grooming by paedophiles.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott flagged increased monitoring of extremist groups after two teenagers were intercepted last week trying to leave Australia to join Islamic State.
The group's online radicalisation and recruitment program has proven devastatingly effective with young Westerners.
Depending just on how vulnerable the person was, radicalisation could take anywhere from months to just a few days.
Dr Leah Farrall from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney has told AM that Islamic State's online recruitment program has similar techniques to a child sex abuser.
"They're being groomed by a narrative, they're being groomed by key influences on social media," Dr Farrall said.
"And so in some way a key part of this is not treating the community as the enemy, but treating this the way we treat the problem of children being groomed online for child sexual exploitation.
"It's critically important that we reach out to the community and involve them, and as with anything make sure that parents have the technical knowledge to keep an eye on what their kids are doing online."
The sinister effectiveness of Islamic State's propaganda campaign was again apparent when two Sydney teenagers aged 16 and 17 tried to leave Australia to join the extremist group in Syria.
London-based political communications expert Amil Khan said there was no one-size-fits-all answer to how the group's propaganda was affecting young people.
"The real cleverness in the ideology and the strategy is that it hooks onto people's various backgrounds and various issues and various circumstances of their lives, but can link all of those different things into an overarching ideology," he said.
"So it can find a place for you, whether you're a farmer in Afghanistan or whether you're a young graduate without a job in London."
Government counter campaign planned
The situation is troubling the Government so much that the Prime Minister has flagged a campaign against Islamic State's online propaganda, but it is yet to release any details about what it intends to do.
Counter-terrorism expert and former Scotland Yard policeman Nick O'Brien said the speed with which IS had gained thousands of Western supporters had taken governments by surprise.
"It's ranged from, in Australia, from 70 to 90 to I've seen 250, so all of a sudden over the last year we've seen this huge increase," he said.
"I think it's a reaction to that that is making [governments] put money in this particular area."
Developing a counter attack to Islamic State's online presence, however, was not predicted to be easy.
The group's technical expertise is highly rated and cybersecurity experts say it would be virtually impossible to stop Australians from accessing its websites.
"The hardest thing with them is actually locating where they are, and by that I mean which jurisdiction they're hosted in," said Nigel Phair, director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra.
"They could be hosted in multiple jurisdictions, and then once that's discovered, then we need to work through the authorities in that jurisdiction to actually get them removed and taken off the web.
"It can be blocked by the IP address or the web address but many people use what's known as proxies, and that is they come in through an IP address that's not associated with Australia and therefore gain access to them that way."