University of Limerick
AlSaab_2022_Investigation.pdf (4.06 MB)

Investigating the role of social media in the formation of intellectual deviation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

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posted on 2022-11-17, 12:21 authored by Ibrahim F Al Saab

Over the last few years, social media have witnessed a huge demand and use by all  segments of modern society, especially the younger generation. Such platforms have become tools for exchanging ideas and opinions and forums for discussion. Generations  which, in contrast to their predecessors, have been initiated into a society replete with  social media. As such, these generations have had social media shape their lives and mould  their way of understanding the world around them, and have also been earmarked for the religious terrorism and extremism which has resulted in shocking events such as 9/11, the  Arab Spring, and the dawn of violent religious terrorists, such as ISIS (Jenkins, 2011).  

This research will aim to combine these two facets of modern day life and assess how they  influence and interact with one another in the minds of Saudi Arabia’s youth. This is done  by identifying the role and influence of social media on intellectual deviation: terrorism in  Saudi Arabia and understanding its causes and explaining the part that social learning  theory has in facilitating the recruitment of individuals through popular social media in the  Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Social learning theory is effective in showing how  relatives and friends are influenced by social media and allows us to determine whether  these social platforms contribute to the propagation of terrorism, especially amongst close-groups. 

A mixed methods approach is used to collect qualitative and quantitative data. The  researcher conducted interviews with two official investigators in the Saudi Counter  Terrorism Unit (CTU) and interviews with one of the families affected by the terrorist  groups. The study also received 250 separate questionnaire replies from the general public  by electronic survey to elicit their opinions and attitudes towards the phenomenon of terrorism. In addition, 50 questionnaires were received from investigators in the Saudi  Public Prosecution Service and also from experts in criminology at Naif University, KSA.  

The results of the current study indicate that important analysis shows that most of those who joined extremist groups were able to persuade a  relative or friend to join them or support them at home through propaganda or financial  support. factors are: the recruitment of  relatives and friends, family environment control, and the need for educational curriculum  reform. This researcher also highlights the significance of activating community participation regarding the promotion of concepts of intellectual security through community awareness and internet monitoring. Such monitoring includes especially open  websites, electronic games which target young minds and particularly combat games. Our  analysis shows that most of those who joined extremist groups were able to persuade a  relative or friend to join them or support them at home through propaganda or financial support.

Our data analysis covers factors such as age and gender tests; independent samples, T-Tests, the analysis of variance (ANOVA) and multiple comparisons with Least Significant  Difference (LSD). The researcher concludes that social media usage and terrorism factors  cannot be separated from each other and gives some recommendations for further research  in this domain, particularly in the area of encrypted languages which are heavily utilised  among terrorist groups. Further discourse analyses should be carried out in this rich and  important research domain. 



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Liam Murray

Department or School

  • School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics

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