policy makers underestimate internet independence?
YouTube independence of positing video content
The internet moderated terrorism
Regulating the internet for anti-terrorism
Freedom and Terrorism on the Internet
The purpose of the study is to explore the use of internet by terrorist organizations and the degree of independence that terrorist enjoy while conducting and coordinating their terrorism activities from the cyberspace. The topic is an area of interest for the researcher as it is significantly relevant in today's environment when cross-border terrorism has increased. As part of the academic and citizen world, the researcher feels it is essential to gauge the scale and severity of terrorism moderated by internet sources.
The main audiences of the research paper are academic instructors, research students of cyber security and government policy makers who can influence to control terrorism originating from the freedom of internet use for every user irrespective of the underlying motive.
There are three main hypotheses for the research paper. These are:
H1: There is a lack of realization on the part of academic and policy makers regarding the degree of terrorism carried out through the use of internet.
H2: The unrestricted independence of using internet granted to people irrespective of their affiliation to terrorists groups has increased internet-moderated terrorism.
H3: The nation states will increasingly come under threat of internet-induced terrorism without regulating the users with respect to their identity and affiliation.
The importance of investigating the internet's ability to induce terrorism has gained momentum. A report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) indicated that there is an issue of developing a universally recognizable instrument in explaining internet led terrorism. The issues get intricate as there does not exist legal and practical aspects of investigating internet-based terrorism crimes. There are numerous terrorists groups that operate in the internet space. Weimann (2004) observes that in 1998, nearly half of the terrorists groups titled as "Foreign Terrorists Organization" under the U.S. Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 had their group maintained websites. By the year 2000, all of the foreign terrorist organizations established their websites. It implies that terrorists find it easy and relevant to establish their online presence and garner operational and ideological support from their source.
Weimann (2004) criticizes academics, policy makers and journalists for stating that internet-based terrorism is overestimated. In fact, the type of terrorism is underestimated as it becomes increasingly coordinated through internet. Weimann (2004) made an integrated effort to identify, analyze and illustrate the methods through which terrorists organizations use the internet freedom and freedom of expression to garner support for their agenda. The author also categorized the methods. Fig 1 displays the general trend of websites related to terrorists' organizations.
Fig 1- General trend of Terrorist Activity on Internet
Fig 2 highlights the different uses of internet websites that remain in use of terrorists. The independence to register domain names and fake the registration process also helps the rapid registration of terror-led groups onto the cyberspace.
Fig 2- Uses of Internet Space
Adapted from: (Weimann, 2004; p. 2)
How policy makers underestimate the internet independence?
The cyberspace is easy to access and highly unregulated (Weimann, 2006) with any censorship of information and propaganda (Brinkerhoff, 2006) that terror organizations carry out. The anonymous nature of communication leaves it highly independent for the terror groups to pass critical information that otherwise would not have been possible. There are hardly any exuberant upfront costs associated with setting up communication network on cyberspace. The ability of terrorists to produce cheap content in the form of videos, text and graphics leaves the internet highly in fluxed with propaganda materials. The fast flow of information makes it possible for the terrorists to collect, share and disseminate information in near real-time. The following table indicates that a majority of the organizations from multiple regions use the internet
Japanese Supreme Truth
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
People's Mujahideen of Iran
Turkish Democratic Liberation Front
Irish Republican Army
Armed Revolutionary Forces of Columbia (FARC)
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), Harkat ul Ansar, Khmer Rouge, Kurdistan Workers Party (KPP), Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Weimann (2009) also states that governments are yet unaware of the scale and degree of terror being facilitated by unregulated internet use. The author describes that the new social media is also increasing its role in promoting terror on the cyberspace, The use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube has also been under investigated. Weimann (2009) argues that fruits of a postmodern world, globalization and technology revolution have also been obtained by the terrorists groups. They communicate with each other without coding their conversation. The author cites communication between two terrorists of Izz al din al Kassam Brigades the military faction of Hamas (p. 45). Chartrooms, blogs, videos, and self-determined online communities are used to disseminate propaganda and information. Groups such as Yahoo and PalTalk are increasingly used and terrorists use it to obtain feedback and share information regarding live activities.
The terrorists using Twitter in real time communication has become intense and the U.S. Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion publishes a report that outlined the ways in which terrorists were using Twitter accounts. The independence to register Twitter accounts (the website allows registration of multiple accounts) allows the terrorists to mobilize communication technology in their favor. The terrorists groups use social media websites to recruit propagate and advance their agenda within young demographics. Youth dominated websites are used by the terrorist organizations to recruit people for logistical and operational support. The target is people of impressionable age with terrorists influencing their minds with videos, blogs, propaganda tools and religious texts. The majority of terrorists from the Middle Eastern region were found to be reluctant in registering with Facebook as it showed their social identity openly to other members without the use of privacy settings. Emailing groups are another form of terrorists getting connected through the internet. The Ansar Mailing Group is an example f people from Ansar ul Mjahideen to conduct their terrorists' activities. The lack of identifiable information leaves the law enforcing agencies with no clue about the users. Nonetheless, recent findings by the FBI indicated that some Somali Americans were using their Facebook accounts to gain support for Al-Shahb group of Somali terrorists. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) mentions that Facebook is a rich resource for terrorists to gather information. The 2012 report of World Economic Forum (WEF) recognized five major global risk categories i.e. economic risks, Environmental risks, geopolitical risks, societal risks, and technological risks. Fig 3 highlights the technological risks.
Fig 3- Global Technological Risks
YouTube independence of positing video content
The independence of posting video content to the YouTube forum leaves it significantly easy for the terrorists to post videos and promote psychological warfare. YouTube provides a massive online medium for terrorists to increase their appeal in target demographics (Denning, 2009; Weimann, 2009). Al-Faloja is a password protected terrorist online platform used by terrorists to increase the use of YouTube for posting terror videos and instruction manuals for making bombs. There are numerous sites developed on the pattern of YouTube such as AqsaTube, PaluTube and TubeZik (Weimann, 2009, p. 52).
Recent statistics indicate that the majority of users promoting video content showing martyrs propaganda are from the U.S. And outside the Middle East. Researchers have also found that appeal of these terrorists organizations and hate preachers is not limited to isolated parts of the Middle East or North Africa. In fact the appeal of these terrorists is beyond national borders and can influence several individuals to take up arms against the perceived enemies. Texts and messages along with videos are an increasingly lethal weapon of terrorists to post their propaganda online. Amble (2012) argues that terrorism in the new media environment has become a multidimensional issue and no single stakeholder can reduce the impact of terrorists until an integrated and holistic approach is not adopted. Identification and mitigation of these threats is the essential domain of policy makers that can bring multiple stakeholders to discuss the rapidly evolving situation. Yunos, Z., Ahmad, Ali and Shamsuddin (2012) conducted a research on the illicit activities and terrorism in the cyberspace of Southeast Asia countries. The authors suggested that terrorism activities are supported and moderated by the open office space.
The degree of independence that the internet has provided over to the young demographics has changed their perception of the right and wrong. They increasingly seem frustrated with their parents. To develop a holistic strategy backed with sheer commitment can deliver better results. The role of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube in instigating a government overthrow in the Middle Eastern country of Tunisia is an example how the new media is revolutionizing the way people used to communicate. FeigenbAum (2011) argues that the case of Blackberry Messenger (BBM) as a communication mode in London…