Terrorism in Cyberspace: The Next Generation
The war on terrorism has not been won, Gabriel Weimann argues in Terrorism in Cyberspace, successor to his seminal 2006 book, Terror on the Internet. Even though al-Qaeda’s leadership has largely been destroyed and its organization disrupted, terrorist attacks take 12,000 lives annually worldwide and jihadist terrorist ideology continues to spread. How? Largely by going online and adopting a new method of organization.
Terrorist structures, traditionally built of loose-knit cells, divisions, and subgroups, are ideally suited for flourishing on the Internet through websites, email, chatrooms, e-groups, forums, virtual message boards, YouTube, Google Earth, and other outlets. Weimann addresses terrorism’s arrival online; recent trends—such as engaging children and women, promoting lone wolf attacks, and using social media—and future threats, along with ways to counter them. He analyzes content from more than 9,800 terrorist websites and selects their most important kinds of web activity, describes their background and history, and surveys their content in terms of kind and intensity, the groups and prominent individuals involved, and their effects. The book also considers cyberterrorism against financial, governmental, and engineering infrastructure; efforts to monitor, manipulate, and disrupt terrorists’ online efforts; and worrisome threats to civil liberties posed by ill-directed efforts to suppress terrorists’ online activities.
Gabriel Weimann is professor of communication at the University of Haifa, Israel. He was a Fellow at the Wilson Center in 2013–14.
Professor Weimann discussed Terrorism in Cyberspace at a presentation at the Library of Congress on June 10, 2015. A video and full transcript of the presentation are available on the Library of Congress website.
Watch a Wilson Center NOW Interview with the Author
About the Author
Digital Futures Project
Less and less of life, war and business takes place offline. More and more, policy is transacted in a space poorly understood by traditional legal and political authorities. The Digital Futures Project is a map to constraints and opportunities generated by the innovations around the corner - a resource for policymakers navigating a world they didn’t build. Read more