Cybercortical Warfare: Hizbollah’s Internet Strategy

The acceleration of the historical tempo and the move from hierarchical to networked conceptions of power is disintegrating the mechanisms of control and political representation at the disposal of the state. The upshot of this is that ‘resistance confronts domination, empowerment reacts against powerlessness, and alternative projects challenge the logic embedded in the new global order’ (Castells 1997, 69). These reactions and mobilisations, often take ‘unusual formats and proceed through unexpected ways’ (Castells 1997, 69). This chapter deals with one such alternative project. It is a preliminary empirical analysis of the adoption by the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hizbollah (Party of God) of a strategy of cybercortical warfare. In his introduction to the Vintage edition of Covering Islam (1997), Edward Said refers to the ‘information wars that have gone on since 1948 around the whole question of the Middle East’ (p. xxi). He is particularly concerned with the way in which Hizbollah ‘who identify themselves and are perceived locally as resistance fighters’ are ‘commonly referred to in the American media as terrorists’ (p. xiii). Hizbollah are one of a number of groups that have utilized the Internet ‘to produce and articulate a conscious and forceful self-image’ (Said: 66) of themselves not as terrorists, but as resistance fighters and statesmen. The major focus of this chapter is the way in which Hizbollah have wielded the Internet as a weapon in their information war. As will be demonstrated, the group’s collection of Web sites is targeted not at Lebanese or Palestinian audiences, but at the Israeli population and global publics. For this reason, the chapter represents a case study of the possibilities of the new technology, discussed and defined by this chapter as ‘cybercortical warfare’.

Tags: Hizbullah, Islam, Mass Media, Narratives, Violent Jihadism