The two men pecked out messages on opposite sides of the country. “Yes the Islamic State was a fantasy in 2004, now look at it. The U.S. was a fantasy in 1776, now look at it,” the man in Virginia wrote in a Twitter direct message to an online friend in Oregon. The Virginian, who went by various Twitter handles, including one with “Jihadi” in it, had been obsessively watching slick online videos produced by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS: brutality and jihadist propaganda, much of it translated into English and other languages. Now he was talking about traveling to Syria and forming a militia in Virginia. “Washington beat an empire with 3 percent of the population. I can do it with 1 percent.” His correspondent in Oregon was Paul Dietrich, a programmer and digital activist joining jihad-related Twitter conversations out of curiosity. Alarmed, he did what relatively few are doing: he tried to intervene with someone who was showing signs of being radicalized by ISIS’s social-media campaign. Dietrich heard the man’s grievances sympathetically, tried to talk common sense, and suggested he get psychological help. Then one night he called the Virginia man “stupid.”“How am I stupid?” he… Read full this story
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