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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Understanding the Online and Offline Dynamics of Terrorist Pathways

Terrorists use the Internet. This shouldn’t surprise anybody, but it also forms the basis of an important selection bias that may cause a misunderstanding as to the role of the Internet in contemporary pathways. Presently, the state of research heavily emphasises the online environment in which terrorists find themselves. This includes a vast range of studies on particular platformscontent, or even whole ecosystems. This research is high-quality and tells an important part of the story, but a persistent focus on online activity may cause researchers, policymakers, and the media to overrate the importance of the Internet at the expense of offline factors, believing phenomena like “online radicalisation” are present and persistent problems. Below, we offer an insight into ongoing case-study research in which we seek to understand how 231 IS terrorists in America use the Internet, but in the wider context of a range of online and offline behaviours. The data have been collected via open sources, including court documents, academic and grey literature, and journalistic sources to build a case file for each actor.

Looking firstly just at online behaviours, we can see that the Internet is near ubiquitous in trajectories towards terrorism. Over nine in ten used the Internet as part of their antecedent activities. The vast majority accessed propaganda – including magazinesexecution videos, and lectures – with many sharing it to other co-ideologues. Many used the Internet to provide support and assistance to others, like playing “travel agent” by hooking up would-be travellers with individuals that could smuggle them from Turkey into Syria, while a majority went online to prepare for their event, for example, by acquiring bomb-making instructions or booking travel tickets.

Read more at the Global Network on Extremism & Technology

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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