Relocating the Virtual War

Countering Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups’ use of the Internet for both organizational purposes and the dissemination of radical propaganda has frequently been conceptualized in terms of a war in a virtual space. This assumption has led to a distorted understanding of how the Internet is relevant to terrorism, and what methods are appropriate for addressing this. In particular, it has led to an overemphasis on action by governments ‘on’ the Internet. This entails moving the ‘fight’ into a terrain in which it cannot easily be won. Better strategies for counteracting the benefits terrorists draw from the Internet might proceed from instead drawing on governments’ overwhelmingly greater power over matter and physical space, and their ability to shape agendas across the complete spectrum of media.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, CVE, Mass Media, Narratives