Unraveling International Terrorist Groups’ Exploitation of the Web: Technical Sophistication, Media Richness, and Web Interactivity

  • Jialun Qin
  • Yilu Zhou
  • Edna Reid
  • Guanpi Lai
  • Hsinchun Chen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3917)


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.


Medium Richness Chat Room Online Forum Collection Building Psychological Warfare 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jialun Qin
    • 1
  • Yilu Zhou
    • 1
  • Edna Reid
    • 1
  • Guanpi Lai
    • 2
  • Hsinchun Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management Information SystemsThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Systems and Industry EngineeringThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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