Spreading the Message Digitally: A Look into Extremist Organizations’ Use of the Internet

Why would a terrorist choose to utilize the Internet rather than the usual methods of assassination, hostage taking, and guerrilla warfare? Conway (2006) identified five major reasons why extremist groups used the Internet: virtual community building, information provision, recruitment, financing, and risk mitigation. Terrorist and extremist organizations can use the Internet to increase their visibility and provide information about the group along with its goals without posing an increased risk to the members. It also allows them to easily ask for, and accept, donations through anonymous financial services such as Dark Coins. These benefits allow these groups to promote awareness of their cause, to convey their message to, and perhaps foster sympathy from a much larger pool of potential supporters and converts (Weimann 2010). Finally, the Internet also provides asynchronous services with global access, with the sender and recipient located at any place, at any time, without the need to link up at a specific time (Wagner 2005). In short, unlike the real world, cyberspace is borderless without limitation, and this makes identification, verification, and attribution a challenge.

Tags: Cyber Security, Fundraising, Radicalisation, Recruitment