Technology agency agencies reach out to a worldwide audience, spreading their beliefs and radicalizing vulnerable people, sparking a global sense of fear.
What is the definition of terrorism? There are many objectives, used in the broadest sense of the word, against the use of intimidation, usually against civilians, to achieve political goals (Paganini, 2018).
Technology has become a fundamental part of society and gives us advantages; However, there are also downsides. Terrorist organizations use technology for their own benefit (Stewart, 2017).
This project explores how technology is being used for propaganda, recruitment and radicalization, communication and encryption, funding and weapons (Kaplan, 2009).
The organizations studied are Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Lone Wolves. Technologies under consideration are the World Wide Web (WWW), the dark net and consumer electronics.
A global effort is needed to counter the threat of terrorism. Not only do counterterrorism organizations, the government and other groups have to fight this, they also need to develop new technologies to deal with any threats in the future (Dispatch, 2017).
Al-Qaeda was formed in 1988 in Peshawar by a jihadist group that included Osama bin Laden. Despite the deaths of all of its founding leaders, al-Qaeda continues to operate in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burma, Djibouti, Ethiopia, France, India, Kashmir, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, USA and Yemen (Counter Extremism Project, 2019).
The Islamic State was formed in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with “seed funding”. from Osama bin Laden. (UCL Institute of Education, 2019). The Islamic State, now known as ISIS, operates in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the North Caucasus (Counter Extremism Project, 2019).
Lone wolves are people who plan and conduct terrorist groups independently of terrorist groups. Such terrorism is terrorism because of the use of violence for political purposes. Lone wolf attacks have been inspired by many ideologies.
An example of a lone wolf attack is the attack by Brenton Tarrant on March 15, 2019, at the Masjid Al Noor Mosques and the nearby Linwood Masjid Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand (BBC News, 2019). His attack was inspired by the views of the right wing, and before the crime he issued a manifesto supporting China’s political and social values, stating how undiversified it is (Lu, 2019).
Terrorist organizations and lone wolves are using technology to spread propaganda to a global audience. Social media used to be the main platform, but in recent years the darknet has become more and more popular for housing propaganda (Cox, 2015); (Weymann, 2016); (Malik, 2018).
ISIS has a dedicated media council that deals with media strategies (Counter Extremism Project, 2019). Abu Abdullah al-Maghribi, a member of the ISIS security council, said in an interview that “The media is more important than the soldiers, their monthly income is higher. They have better cars. They have the power to induce those on the inside to fight, the power to bring more recruits to the Islamic State. Abu Hajjer, an ISIS cameraman, described how footage of prayers in a mosque or executions of Syrian soldiers would find a global audience and quickly broadcast on mainstream news channels. To make the videos look professional (Mekhennet, 2015), hints have been supplied as to how the videos were delivered.
Another use is to make women believe they are gaining power by becoming brides of jihad. Umm Leith, an ISIS supporter, maintained social media accounts, now remote, to keep the jihadist fiancée alive. There were posts on her blogs depicting women with the same powers as their husbands. According to a 2014 report, 18 percent of all European ISIS members were women, except that Metropolitan Police indicated that there were “over 56 women and girls in the UK by early 2015”. (Dierden, 2017).
ISIS relies on Twitter activists to promote new propaganda, especially those with many followers. Activist Shami Witness had 17,000 followers. confirmed by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, ISCR in 2014 (BBC Monitoring, 2014).
The Darknet is part of the surface web that is not indexed by consumer search engines and is hidden from everyone except those with specialized knowledge. The Darknet is a safer place for terrorist propaganda because it provides anonymity and is more difficult for counter-terrorist organizations to remove. Forums such as the Shamih Forum, a jihadist messaging site, allow people to find propaganda content. The site, discovered by Scott Terban after the 2015 Paris attacks, had “English, Turkish and Russian translations of Al Hayat’s statements about the Paris attacks, as well as a selection of propaganda videos and images. (Cox, 2015) Al-Hayat Media Center also posted links to propaganda sites after Paris and used Telegram, a popular messaging app, to reach out to terrorists. The messages contained links to the Tor service. the Dark Web address and the site contained archived propaganda material, such as a documentary video entitled “Flame of War” (Weimann, 2016), which described ISIS’s 2014 successes in the fighting in Iraq and Syria (Malik, 2018).
Technology and the Internet are being used to radicalize because each of them includes the possible consequences of harm.
ISIS encourages men to join by seducing women. Arib Majid fell into such a trap in 2014 when a woman named Karen Aisha Hamilton from the Philippines approached him, offering him sex and life as a jihadist (Taneja, 2018).
Al Qaeda also uses the Internet to recruit members. They want to reach out to the younger generation and use methods that suit them best, such as Jihadist Rap Music, Video Games and Comics. to get people to participate (Counter Extremism Project, 2019).
Statistics from the Henry Jackson Society show how the Internet is actively inspiring people to launch attacks. “More than a third (35%) of the 269 investigations of Islamist-related crimes, the Internet has been named the main site for criminals” involvement in extremism. Another study found that 9% of ISIS attackers watched propaganda videos of beheadings (Malik, 2018).
The darknet is used for radicalization and recruitment. Terrorist organizations use forums that support “individual radicalization”. These techniques maximize terrorist organizations on society and can encourage more people to commit violence on their behalf (Malik, 2018). Noel Velentsas is an example of “self-healing”. terrorism, she used the darknet to spread information about the design of the weapon. When she was charged, she pleaded not guilty, however, she previously displayed views that showed that terrorist attacks in the United States would be more beneficial to a ‘global jihad’ than going to Syria or Iraq (Malik, 2018).
Online content allows people to become radicalized to that extent. An example is Saifullo Saipov, who drove a truck into a crowd in New York, killing eight people. Saipov carried out this attack on behalf of ISIS after watching 90 propaganda videos. In a statement, John Miller, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism, explained how Saipov was closely following the case. And the instructions that ISIS posted on its information channels for its followers on how to carry out such an attack (Patricarakos, 2017).