At first it reads like just another tweet extolling the power of social media. At 9am on Thursday, as news broke of the latest US air strikes in northern Iraq, its author likened the might of social networking to that of the “gun or sword”. But the mention of weaponry was not just a fancy bit of metaphor. Hundreds of jihadists currently fighting in the Middle East are believed to follow the Twitter account of Nasser Balochi, a Sunni Muslim and one of a proliferating army of tweeters doubling as online recruiting sergeants for the intensifying conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

The confrontation between the west and Islamic State (Isis) will, like all military campaigns, be influenced by who wins the propaganda war for hearts and minds, and Islamic State’s online army – dubbed “the new disseminators” by radicalisation experts – are providing crucial backup to the brutal Isis operatives in the field. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog