Foreign Fighters in Their Own Words: Using YouTube as a Source

11 Oct 2016

Kim Mans and Ruben Tuitel

Gaining more insight into the foreign fighting phenomenon can be difficult. Foreign fighters are often in hard-to-reach areas and war-torn countries which makes it dangerous for researchers to travel to these places. Social media platforms provide researchers with additional possibilities to gain knowledge of these fighters without any direct risks that normally exist when travelling to war zones. While Facebook and Twitter have proved to be useful in foreign fighter research, YouTube provides a different insight into the lives of foreign fighters. By analysing what is said in videos, answers to basic questions like: ‘who are these foreign fighters?’, ‘why do these foreign fighters travel to Syria?’ and ‘where will they go next when the fight is over?’, can add to thick descriptions in foreign fighter research. While the use of YouTube has its advantages, such as easy access to the thoughts and motives of foreign fighters, it also has its limitations. The reliability of their statements in the videos cannot be guaranteed and a small sample size can undermine the reliability.

Read the Report.

How to cite: K. Mans and R. Tuitel. “Foreign Fighters in Their Own Words: Using YouTube as a Source”, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (2016).