Borderless World, Boundless Threat: Online Jihadists and Modern Terrorism

This study profiles 20 recent cases of online jihadists who have made the transition to real-world terrorism along a number of characteristics: age, ethnicity, immigration status, education, religious upbringing, socio-economic class, openness about beliefs, suicidal tendencies, rhetoric focus, location, target, terrorist action, offline and online activity, and social isolation or the presence of an identity crisis. The analysis shows that today, it is much less important how al-Qaida or any other jihadist group expresses its ideology, because any individual may self-radicalize and interpret the jihadist social movement in their own way and carry out terrorist attacks based on this understanding. When the jihadist social movement becomes borderless, the threat presented by the terrorists it inspires is no longer limited by the artificial boundaries of the real world. Counterterrorism officials must recognize this and adopt a long-term strategy for combating this movement.

Tags: Social Media, Violent Jihadism