Monday, December 5, 2011

The Internet and terrorism

In Khatib’s “Communicating Islamic Fundamentalism as Global Citizenship” that we read over Thanksgiving, he talks about the importance of the internet as a tool of communication for fundamental Islamic networks. He includes Al-Naeda, Al-Qaeda, Shareeah, the Taliban and Hamas as examples. Obviously, we cannot make the mistake of labeling all Islamic fundamentalists terrorists. But there are some that are terrorist organizations and many of them use the internet as one of their most crucial tools.

The Council on Foreign Relations said the number of terrorist websites increased over the last decade, from 100 to 4800 in 2007. It’s quite obvious that as global access to the internet increases, terrorist organizations are much more likely to use the internet to spread propaganda. They use propaganda to raise money, recruit new members and raise morale among current members. The internet makes it so much easier to spread this propaganda and reach readers/viewers no matter where in the world they may be.

Propaganda often comes in the form of videos of roadside bombings and executions. CFR said that in Iraq, it’s not just terrorists that watch these videos…it’s often the general public. These videos are also often sold at video shops, kept behind the counter with pornography.

Terrorist websites also function as training manuals, teaching how to make bombs, sneak into Iraq from abroad and shoot at American soldiers. Yet another reason the internet works so well for terrorism organizations is that it’s relatively secret and anonymous. And the terrorist organizations are often excellent at encryption, making things even more anonymous.

One fact that truly proves the prevalence of terrorist organizations on the internet is that al-Qaeda has had a position called digital media director. Ali Hamza Ahmad Suleiman al-Bahlul served in that position previously, but he is currently serving a life sentence in Guantanamo.

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