In Internet’s Way: Radical, Terrorist Islamists on the Free Highway

In Internet’s Way: Radical, Terrorist Islamists on the Free Highway

Raphael Cohen-Almagor (Department of Politics and International Studies, The University of Hull, Hull, UK)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/ijcwt.2012070104
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Abstract

The article is opened with definitions of terms utilized throughout the article. Terrorism is defined as the threat or employment of violence against noncombatant targets for political, religious, or ideological purposes by sub-national groups and/or clandestine individuals who are willing to justify all means to achieve their goals. Terrorist conduct is designed to attract attention to the terrorist’s cause and to spread fear and anxiety among wide circles of the targeted population. Subsequently the author analyses how terrorists use the Internet, and what can be done to counter their activities. The Internet is used to disseminate information, for propaganda, indoctrination, networking, psychological warfare, socialization, motivation, fund raising, spreading tactics, recruitment, planning activities and coordination. As the Internet became a major arena for modern terrorists, we need to devise appropriate methods to forestall their activities and establish security.
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2. Definitions And Background Information

The word “terror” comes from the Latin “terrere,” meaning “to frighten” or “to scare” (Matusitz, 2013, p. 1). For the purposes of this study, terrorism is defined as the threat or employment of violence against noncombatant targets for political, religious, or ideological purposes by sub-national groups and/or clandestine individuals who are willing to justify all means to achieve their goals. Terrorist conduct is designed to attract attention to the terrorist’s cause and to spread fear and anxiety among wide circles of the targeted population (Cohen-Almagor, 2005).1 Terrorism is usually the work of a small number of committed individuals who strive for what they perceive as the “greater good” of a larger group with whom the terrorists identify.

The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (2011) in the US State Department (S/CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups active around the world. In May 2011, it listed 48 terrorist organizations. More than 30 of them were established by radical, terrorist Islamic groups. The majority of those terrorist groups use the Internet as a primary tool for their activities. The number of pro-terrorism websites is estimated to have increased from approximately 12 in 1998 to more than 4,700 by 2005 (Ariza, 2005). These websites use slogans to catch attention, often offering items for sale (such as T-shirts, badges, flags, and video or audio cassettes). Frequently the websites are designed to draw local supporters, providing information in a local language about the activities of a local cell as well as those of the larger organization. The website is, thus, a recruiting tool as well as a basic educational link for local sympathizers and supporters (Neville-Jones, 2011; Forest, 2006).

Cyberterrorism is a particular form of terrorism conducted by information technology. It is defined as ideologically-politically motivated attacks against information infrastructures which result in violence against government agencies and officials as well as noncombatant targets. Such criminal acts through computers are perpetrated by sub-national groups and clandestine agents may result in death and/or destruction, creating terror for the purpose of coercing governments to change their policies. Cyberterrorism can potentially undermine a country’s economy by attacking the critical infrastructure of major cities as dams, nuclear reactors, water and power supplies are operating via computers. Banks and other financial institutions might also be crippled by such attacks (Janczewski & Colarik, 2008).

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