olitical extremists and terrorists are using the internet asan instrument for radicalisation and recruitment. This report– resulting from the first systematic effort to bring togetherindustry, experts and government on the issue of online radicalisation– examines what can be done by governments, industry and civilsociety to counter their activities.Most governments have focused on technical solutions, believingthat removing or blocking radicalising material on the internet willsolve the problem. Yet, this report shows that any strategy that relieson reducing the availability of content alone is bound to be crude,expensive and counterproductive. Radicalisation is largely a real-worldphenomenon that cannot be dealt with simply by ‘pulling the plug’. The analogy with countering child sexual abuse on the internet isflawed, because much of the material involved in child sexual abuseis clearly illegal and there are no political constituencies which mightbe offended if repressive action is taken against it. Any strategy that hopes to counter online radicalisation must aimto create an environment in which the production and consumptionof such materials become not just more difficult in a technical sensebut unacceptable as well as less desirable. Elements of thisstrategy include:
The report thus develops concrete proposals for action withineach of the four strands:
selective use o takedowns in conjunction with prosecutionswould
signal that individuals engaged in online extremism are notbeyond the law.
creation o an Internet Users Panel
in order to strengthenreporting mechanisms and complaints procedures would allowusers to make their voices heard.
More attention must be paid to media literacy
, and a comprehensiveapproach in this area is badly needed.
establishment o an independent start-up und
wouldprovide seed money for grassroots online projects aimed atcountering extremism.Efforts to counter online radicalisation must view new technologiesand modes of interaction not as a threat but as an opportunity.Relying on government alone is not sufficient
It is vital to capitaliseupon the potential contributions of all stakeholders, including internetcompanies and internet users.
AbouT ThIS RePoRT
The authors of this report are Tim Stevensand Dr. Peter R. Neumann. The research for thisreport could not have been undertaken withoutthe kind and very generous support of:
T Cmmnity Scrity Trst, LndnRna Slsky and Dr. Sami David, Nw Yrk
The views expressed in this report do notnecessarily reflect the opinions of any of theproject’s sponsors. All URLs (web links) mentioned in this reportwere active on 28 January 2009.
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) isa unique partnership in which King’s CollegeLondon, the University of Pennsylvania, theInterdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel) and theRegional Center for Conflict Prevention Amman(Jordan) are equal stakeholders. The aim and mission of ICSR is to bring togetherknowledge and leadership to counter the growthof radicalisation and political violence. For moreinformation, please visit
For questions, queries and additional copiesof this report, please contact:ICSRKing’s College London138 – 142 StrandLondon WC2R 1HHUnited Kingdom
+ 44 20 7848 2065
+ 44 20 7848 2748
firstname.lastname@example.orgLike all other ICSR publications, this report can bedownloaded free of charge from the ICSR websiteat
.© ICSR 2009