Ilyian Iliev

University of Southern Mississippi

The use of social media by political leaders and by terrorist organizations has grown significantly in the last decade. The medium allows for the instantaneous transmission of varied signals to allies and foes, and for the establishment of complex networks of highly varied audiences. These interactions and processes generate large volumes of data that is of interest to academics, policy makers, and anti-terrorism experts. They are also of interest to the general public and as such foster substantial media interest. The interactions have a real-world bearing on policy making and a direct impact on the public. Advanced statistical techniques are essential in analyzing and understanding the processes, allowing researchers to identify adversary capabilities and intentions, impacts on the civil population, predict potential actions, and determine possible courses of action.

Despite the prevalence of outlets, and previous research on the critical impact of media and perceptions expressed by political leadership on civil unrest, we lack a comprehensive quantitative analysis of the attitudes of Arab political and religious leaders. This paper utilizes a novel algorithm that quantifies the attitudes of Arab leaders in social media and assesses the related political network structures. Such a measure of political perception allows enhanced analysis of the connection between terrorist events and Arab leaders’ attitudes.