The Internet as a catalyst to Islamic Radicalism

Accelerating Islamic Radicalism
Anna Khan &Tariq West

Radical Islam
Definition and complexities

The Social Change
1. There are a greater number and variety of radical Islamic ideologies 2. These Radical Ideologies are embraced by a greater number of individuals 3. Individuals are adopting these Radical Ideologies at an accelerated rate

The Technology
The Internet and the information resources (e.g. The World Wide Web) and services (e.g. Email, Chat, File-Transfer/Sharing) which it supports.

The Internet as Enabler
The internet has enabled individual radicals and radical groups to organize and communicate in ways previously unavailable to them while mitigating the environmental risks and barriers associated with the practice and propagation of their ideologies.

Mitigating Risks
Risks radicals face and how the internet helps mitigates them.

Risks
ƒ Micro:
ƒ Social stigma ƒ Private retaliation

Internet
ƒ Anonymous/Secret ƒ Not subject to legal authority (beyond specific jurisdictions)

ƒ Macro:
ƒ Political hazard ƒ Formal sanctions

Transcending Barriers
Barriers radicals face and how the internet helps transcend them.

Barriers
ƒ Geographical ƒ Geopolitical ƒ Capital ƒ Credibility/Access to legitimate means of information distribution

Internet
ƒ Transnational/unrestri cted across borders ƒ Inexpensive ƒ Not subject to centralized control/Uncensored

Useful Features of the Internet
ƒSpeed/Timeliness: information can be disseminated to many individuals almost instantaneously ƒReliability: internet infrastructure is less prone to attack, malfunction, disruption etc« than other networks (e.g. a word of mouth network)

Useful Features of the Internet
ƒAudience: anyone with access to the internet can consume and participate in the production and transmission of radical ideology ƒVirtual Community: individuals can immerse themselves in like minded communities, reinforcing commonly held beliefs

Salient Radical Islamic Uses of the Internet
ƒDistribution of materials through websites and file sharing services ƒRecruitment and indoctrination of individuals on online forums and chat rooms ƒCommunication with like minded individuals or groups through email and newsgroups

Examples
ƒIslamic Awakening ƒMuhajiroun ƒMaktabAl-Jihad ƒOsama Bin-Laden Crew

The Net Effect
ƒ As Western governments crack down on Radical Islamic groups, technology mediated spaces (e.g. the WWW) are increasingly replacing the mosque and other spaces as the locus of recruiting, networking, planning and information sharing. ƒ Radical groups are increasingly able to reach across borders and avoid sanctions while actively and passively targeting audiences and rallying around radical beliefs

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