How US Officials Say ISIS Uses Social Media to Recruit

Terrorist group sells kind fighters, happy children and video games with bloody murder and violence, to attract people to their cause.
7:31 | 05/08/15

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Transcript for How US Officials Say ISIS Uses Social Media to Recruit
Tonight the FBI director is sounding the alarm about Isis saying the terror group is reaching deeper in to America, thanks to a disturbingly sophisticated social media campaign. ABC's senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas investigates the group's high-tech recruiting efforts and why they are working so well. ? Reporter: In this on-line production mimicking the extremely popular "Grand theft auto" video game, Isis terror cell adventure with murder and mayhem as fun. Subtitles rashly say your games. We do the same actions in the battlefields. The terrorists are using more than video games. They are using hip hop to lure young recruits to the front lines of a deadly war. They are marketing smiling children, selling a false version of life under Isis rule. Even using a fighter with model good looks to promote their cause. Some videos target women with a direct appeal. We have houses. We have security. Reporter: What he doesn't say is women are raped and sold in to slavery. The on-line messaging slick. More settle than the vicious beheading videos the public is more familiar with. The production values top notch. As good as any commercial you can see in the U.S. Top law enforcement officials tell ABC news, the country faces an unprecedented threat. The most sophisticated marketing and social media campaign ever devised by a terrorist organization. They are shooting out in to the interfear 90,000 messages a day. John Carlin heads the justice department's security division and warns Isis pruks are a new threat that every American family needs to be aware of. It is to millions of people across the globe. What they are trying to do is convince young people to go over and ultimately slaughter civilians in a vicious war. Reporter: Skype, Facebook, Twitter, twooet they tweet, Isis is using every social media tool available. We sat down with social media and marketing expert Scott Talan of American university to analyze the message in the videos. This is sophisticated, Madison avenue meets document tear film making meets news channel with pr sensibilities and a marketing value. They are using western tools and techniques and appropriating them for their purposes against the west. ? Reporter: Like those videos appealing to the hip hop generation. For those people on the edge, this could have a lot of resonance. You are speaking to them in a language they understand, video, moving imagery and music. Then this message comes in about we want you. People want to belong to tribes. This is saying, join our tribe. They are using products from American culture, video games, for their purposes that works for them. It is the reverse of our culture. Where we say escape real life and play a game. They are saying escape your life and play a real game with real consequences where we are. Reporter: The real consequence for many is death. Hundreds of western fightersin cluding a few Americans have died on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Isis tries to hide the darker side with messages like this one where they are checking on wounded comrades in the hospital. Handsome young fighter, baseball cap on backwards. How could you not like this? He is not killing people. He is checking on people. Reporter: Another ploy Isis adopted the use of children. In this video, fighters hand out what looks to be cotton candy and ice cream to excited kids. But at the end of the video, a smiling fighter eating ice cream is striking, even haunting. The strategy of using the children -- help me understand why would you do that? Madison avenue uses it all the time. It touches empathy. It gets people to say Aw, it puts your defenses down. Reporter: Another tweet, you see young boys waving guns and chanting. It is disturbing but there's a reason children are used. The branded content. They are mixing graphics, moving images, music, chants, all together to persuade people that this is okay 0. Reporter: Of course for the children it is not okay. They are witness to unspeakable atrocities and slaughter. Cheering, shooting guns people want to be with winners. It doesn't matter what culture, what country or who you are. Reporter: It is working. New alleged Isis recruits in the U.S. Are discovered with increasing frequency. In the last two years alone, 53 Americans have been charged with trying to support Isis or traveling to Syria to join the fight. According to John Carlin, in most cases there's a common thread. Almost every one of these cases we have seen social media involved. Before the advent of this new technology and the growth of social media how would you reach in to the basements and bedrooms of American homes. Reporter: Shannon Connelly was 19 when she started an on-line relationship with Isis. She was Skyping with an Isis fighter. That's right. We are seeing social media used by the terrorists, the way it is used by those who use it for innocent purposes. Reporter: In another case, a 20-year-old Alabama woman ran off last year to join Isis in Syria. She's believed to be still with Isis. As the campaign so effective it's insidiously reaching in to the most unexpected corners. This u.s.-born air force vet is accused of trying to travel to Syria to fight with Isis. The FBI said it found 180 Isis propaganda videos on his laptop. I absolutely felt like my son was brainwashed. Reporter: This woman says her son was recruited by Isis in 2012 and used social media to plan his way to Syria. I was desperate to get him home. I was frustrated. Reporter: He never came home. Damian was killed in 2014. I collapsed and started to shake. I had no idea how to tell my family. Reporter: She started a non-profit to help other families and says that Isis is selling a lie. They speak out to these disconnected youth and say, here, you will belong. You will be one of us. Reporter: Sources acknowledge privately the U.S. Government is struggling to meet this new threat. Face it we invented the internet, the social network sites. We have Hollywood, the capabilities as Mr. Shake was saying to blow these guys out of the water from the standpoint of communications. Reporter: Officials from the highest level of government tell me they may need to recruit advertising experts to combat Isis propaganda. When people know what this group is really about and what it is really doing, killing enslaving, raping and stealing, they are not going to want to join the group. Reporter: But until the west can counter Isis on-line, recruits are likely to keep pouring in to Syria and to possibly threaten the homeland. The frightening thing, the on-line messaging campaign continues right now as the story airs. 90,000 jihadist postings in the next 24 hours. This is Pierre Thomas for "Nightline" in Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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