Delving into the Nature of ‘Virtually Planned’ ISIS Attacks

Journalists, scholars and counter-terrorism practitioners have recently drawn attention to a particular strain of Islamic State terror attacks which have been described as “virtually planned.”

This refers to terror plots where the perpetrators are guided through sustained online communication with Islamic State operatives who provided encouragement, instructions or advice. These plots are also characterized by the absence of physical connections that might make them more directly planned than the term “virtual” would imply, such as one of the perpetrators having trained or fought with Islamic State.

Thomas Hegghammer and Petter Nesser appear to be the first authors to note this as a distinctive type of plot. In 2015 they created a six-part typology to categorize jihadist plots in the West, and Type 4 was “remote communication with directives.” From 2016 onwards authors  such as Daveed Gartenstein-RossMadeleine BlackmanNathanial BarrBridget MorangRukmini CallamachiKim Cragin and Ari Weil popularized the term “virtual planning” to describe these plots.

Read more at Vox-Pol

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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