Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation

By Boyraz, Haci Mehmet | Insight Turkey, Spring 2016 | Go to article overview

Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation


Boyraz, Haci Mehmet, Insight Turkey


Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation

By Gabriel Weimann

Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Centre Press & Columbia University Press, 2015, viii + 296 pages, $30, ISBN: 9780231704496.

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Recently, there has been a growing body of literature on the multifaceted relationship between terrorism and cyberspace in different contexts.

Terrorism in Cyberspace, which emerged out of about 15-years observation of about 10,000 terrorist websites, in addition to innumerable social media platforms, focuses on the past, present and future of terrorism in cyberspace. The author, in all parts of the book, tries to present readers with an understanding of what terrorist groups have been doing in cyberspace. The book fills a research gap by answering the following three research questions: what are the new faces of online terrorism; what can be expected in the near future; how can we counter new trends of terrorism in cyberspace? To address these questions, the book is divided into three main parts.

In the first part of the book, entitled Terrorism Enters Cyberspace, which consists of only one chapter, Weimann specifically examines how terrorist groups and organizations have enhanced their communication strategies. According to him, the growing presence of modern terrorism in cyberspace is at the nexus of two key trends: the democratization of communications driven by user-generated content on the internet, and modern terrorists' growing awareness of the potential for using the internet as a tool for their purposes. Those factors make cyberspace a favorite tool for terrorists. Weimann also argues that terrorists use cyberspace mostly for propaganda and communication purposes rather than attacking purposes, but, as he will later discuss, cyberterrorism is certainly on the terrorists' agenda and is likely to become their new mode of operation.

In the second part of the book, entitled Emerging Trends which consists of six chapters, Weimann focuses on six emerging trends of terrorism: narrowcasting, lone wolves, e-marketing terror, online debates, online fatwas, and terror on social media. Among those, he gives special importance to the first two. Narrowcasting is broadly defined as the dissemination of information to a narrow audience, not to the broader public at large. The terrorist groups use narrowcasting to appeal, seduce and recruit targeted subpopulations, including members of so-called diaspora communities or potential supporters living overseas in Western societies. At that point, Weimann presents Hezbollah's online gaming "Special Force," which targets and allows children to become warriors in a terrorist campaign against Israel. He discusses that the success of ISIS and other similar groups in recruiting hundreds of Europeans and North Americans to come and fight in Iraq and Syria is an ample evidence of the success of this narrowcasting tactic. On the other hand, lone-wolf terrorism is the fastest growing form of terrorism. It is the attack by individual terrorists who are not members of any terrorist organization. …

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