The Adoption and Progression of Media-Driven Jihad

The Adoption and Progression of Media-Driven Jihad

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8876-4.ch001

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the utilization of the internet and digital technologies in terror organizations in the early years of the digital age to the present use of these tools by the Islamic State. The chapter explains the progression of using available technologies and mediums in order to recruit and spread jihadist ideologies around the world.
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Introduction

Internet is a battlefield for jihad, a place for missionary work, a field of confronting the enemies of God. It is upon any individual to consider himself as a media-mujahid, dedicating himself, his wealth and his time for God. (Prucha, 2011, p. 46)

Digital technologies are assisting in the coordination, communication and sustainability of contemporary movements, for better or for worse. Much of the existing literature focuses on the optimistic and democratic potential of digital technologies as well as the internet (Castells, 1996, 1999, 2012; Gerbaudo, 2012; Hussain & Howard, 2011). Yet the imminent threat of cyber war, infiltration of sensitive databases, disruption of the global financial markets, and the preparedness of governments around the world to respond has become a major question in the 21st century. Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure, and Counterterrorism noted, “The U.S. military is no more capable of operating without the Internet than Amazon.com would be. Logistics, command and control, fleet positioning, everything down to targeting, all rely on software and other Internet-related technologies. And all of it is just as insecure as your home computer, because it is all based on the same flawed underlying technologies and uses the same insecure software and hardware” (Clarke & Knake, 2010, Pg. 31). Most pressing is the utilization of digital technologies, social media, and the internet to aid in the facilitation of regimes, organizations, and groups that threaten the lives of humans (in the short-term) and global democratic governance (in the long-term). While the idea of terrorist groups or extremists using the internet for their own (oft not mainstream) agendas is not new, as organizations such as Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and more recently, the Islamic State have used available technologies to wage jihad, it is highly salient as more ruthless and pervasive groups are using digital tools more effectively to mobilize participants as well as support for their cause. Although the phenomenon of terror organizations using available technologies, specifically new media is not novel, Islamic extremist propaganda “has only recently been widely recognized as a top international security threat” (Lakomy, 2017, Pg. 40). The media campaign mounted by the Islamic State has been thorough and purposefully visceral in the invoking of emotions (whether of support, empathy, or rage) by using militant tactics such as beheadings, burning hostages, as well as live drownings. IS understands the more graphic in nature, the quicker content is to go viral and proliferate amongst the targeted population. This book addresses the evolving complexity of digital media and internet use in contemporary terrorist organizations and the responses of the State (formal) and non-state actors (informal), such as Anonymous.

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