Unraveling International Terrorist Groups’ Exploitation of the Web: Technical Sophistication, Media Richness, and Web Interactivity
Terrorists and extremists have become mainstream exploiters of the Internet beyond routine communication operations and dramatically increased their own ability to influence the outside world. Although this alternate side of the Internet, referred to as the “Dark Web,” has recently received extensive government and media attention, the terrorists/extremists’ Internet usage is still under-researched because of the lack of systematic Dark Web content collection and analysis methodologies. To address this research gap, we explore an integrated approach for identifying and collecting terrorist/extremist Web contents. We also propose a framework called the Dark Web Attribute System (DWAS) to enable quantitative Dark Web content analysis from three perspectives: technical sophistication, media richness, and Web interactivity. Using the proposed methodology, we collected and examined more than 200,000 multimedia Web documents created by 86 Middle Eastern multi-lingual terrorist/extremist organizations. In our comparison of terrorist/extremist Web sites to U.S. government Web sites, we found that terrorists/extremist groups exhibited similar levels of Web knowledge as U.S. government agencies. We also found that the terrorists/extremist groups are as effective as the U.S. government agencies in terms of supporting communications and interaction using Web technologies. Based on our case study results, we believe that the DWAS is an effective framework to analyze the technical sophistication of terrorist/extremist groups’ Internet usage and our Dark Web analysis methodology could contribute to an evidence-based understanding of the applications of Web technologies in the global terrorism phenomena.
KeywordsMedium Richness Chat Room Online Forum Collection Building Psychological Warfare
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Albertsen, K.: The Paradigma Web Harvesting Environment. In: 3rd ECDL Workshop on Web Archives, Trondheim, Norway (2003)Google Scholar
- 2.Chen, H., Qin, J., Reid, E., Chung, W., Zhou, Y., Xi, W., Lai, G., Bonillas, A.A., Sageman, M.: The Dark Web Portal: Collecting and Analyzing the Presence of Domestic and International Terrorist Groups on the Web. In: Proceedings of International IEEE Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (2004)Google Scholar
- 4.Demchak, C., Friis, C., La Porte, T. M.: Webbing Governance: National Differences in Constructing the Face of Public Organizations. Handbook of Public Information Systems. G. D. Garson. NYC, Marcel Dekker (2001)Google Scholar
- 5.Denning, D.E.: Information Operations and Terrorism. Journal of Information Warfare (draft) (2004), http://www.jinfowar.com
- 6.ISTS: Examining the Cyber Capabilities of Islamic Terrorist Groups. Report, Institute for Security Technology Studies (2004), http://www.ists.dartmouth.edu/
- 7.Delio, M.: Al Qaeda Web sites Refuses to Die. Wired (2003), http://www.wired.com/news/infostructure/0,1377,58356-2,00.html?tw=wn_story_page_next1
- 9.Jesdanun, A.: WWW: Terror’s Channel of Choice. CBS News (2004)Google Scholar
- 11.Reid, E., Qin, J., Chung, W., Xu, J., Zhou, Y., Schumaker, R., Sageman, M., Chen, H.: Terrorism Knowledge Discovery Project: a Knowledge Discovery Approach to Addressing the Threats of Terrorism. In: Chen, H., Moore, R., Zeng, D.D., Leavitt, J. (eds.) ISI 2004. LNCS, vol. 3073, pp. 125–145. Springer, Heidelberg (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 12.Reilly, B., Tuchel, G., Simon, J., Palaima, C., Norsworthy, K., Myrick, L.: Political Communications Web Archiving: Addressing Typology and Timing for Selection, Preservation and Access. In: Proceedings of 3rd ECDL Workshop on Web Archives (2003)Google Scholar
- 13.Schneider, S.M., Foot, K., Kimpton, M., Jones, G.: Building thematic web collections: challenges and experiences from the September 11 Web Archive and the Election 2002 Web Archive. In: Proceedings of the 3rd ECDL Workshop on Web Archives (2003)Google Scholar
- 14.Thomas, T. L.: Al Qaeda and the Internet: The Danger of Cyberplanning. Parameters, 112-23 (2003), http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/03spring/thomas.htm
- 18.Zhou, Y., Reid, E., Qin, J., Chen, H., Lai, G.: U.S. Domestic Extremist Groups on the Web: Link and Content Analysis. IEEE Intelligent Systems Special Issue on Homeland Security 20(5), 44–51 (2005)Google Scholar