In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, investigators are trying to learn how Omar Mateen became radicalized. A key element is the Internet. Criminology professor Scott Decker: "The Internet has played a central role in the spread of terrorism, particularly individuals in the U.S. who have become radicalized or adopted extremist views."
Jeffrey Simon, author of a book on "lone wolf" terrorism, agrees: "The Internet is really the game-changer in today's terrorism, especially for the lone wolves." He added that "ISIS has proven incredibly savvy in using social media and the Internet to spread their ideology, to call for violent attacks."
That's why the man at the top of America's "most wanted" list is someone most Americans have never heard of. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani is director of external operations for ISIS. He is widely considered to be the author of a strategy that has murdered more than 500 people in attacks around the world since last October 10. Al-Adnani apparently helped inspired the massacre in San Bernardino last December. And he issued the call to violence during Ramadan that apparently inspired Omar Mateen to massacre forty-nine people in Orlando.
The terrorists' strategy to gain followers is clearly working. Bangladesh has detained more than 5,000 people in efforts to counter extremist violence in that country. Israeli authorities continue to investigate last week's attacks in Tel Aviv that killed four and wounded sixteen. Suicide bombers struck a Damascus suburb last Saturday, killing at least twenty and injuring dozens more. ISIS immediately claimed responsibility.
But there's good news in the news.
As Stratfor notes, the Islamic State is in crisis in Syria. The group is losing ground in its three core areas—northern Aleppo province, Raqqa, and Deir el-Zour. All three are critical to sustaining flows of money, fighters, and supplies. The Wall Street Journal reports that Libyan forces are advancing on Islamic State strongholds there as well.
Here's even better news: The Holy Spirit is using the Internet against ISIS and for the glory of God. So-called "cybermissionaries" are reaching people in countries where missionaries are not permitted to work or even live. Online ministries are penetrating across Europe and into secular nations such as Japan. And they are reaching Muslims around the world.
One example is Global Media Outreach, a ministry which has shared the gospel more than 1.5 billion times and registered more than 167 million indicated decisions for Christ in the last twelve years. They are reaching thousands of Muslims every day with the good news of God's love. The Holy Spirit is using GMO and other ministries to take the gospel across the Internet and into hearts around the world.
So be encouraged: God's word is being proclaimed "throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations" (Matthew 24:14). Pray for millions of Muslims to come to Christ: we "ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1). And live so that others will want the Christ you love: "they recognized that they had been with Jesus" (Acts 4:13).
You are the spiritual Internet for the next person you meet.
Publication date: June 13, 2016
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?