Skip to main content

The Impact of the Internet and Cyberspace on the Rise in Terrorist Attacks Across the US and Europe

  • 50 Accesses

Part of the Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)

Abstract

This chapter critically analyses the impact of the Internet and associated technology on the rise in terrorist attacks across the US and Europe over the last two decades. To this end, the chapter will be focusing on jihadists’ use of the Internet, yet comparisons will also be made with the radical right. Although there exist certainly differences between the groups, there are also similarities between them, and, in turn, this chapter will address these movements as a collective. The jihadist terrorist organisations that will be analysed in this chapter will include Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The findings reveal that although the Internet has been linked to the preparation and execution of attacks, as this chapter will explore, it is difficult to establish direct cause and effect associations between the Internet and the rise in attacks in Europe and the US.

Keywords

  • The Internet
  • Cyberspace
  • Terrorism
  • Dark web
  • Technology
  • Virtual private networks
  • Cyber terrorism
  • Encryption
  • Social media sites
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Web 3.0

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-031-06636-8_7
  • Chapter length: 14 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-031-06636-8
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1

References

  1. Abbate (2017) What and where is the Internet? (Re)defining Internet histories. Internet Hist 1(1–2):8–14

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  2. Acharya A (2009) Targeting terrorist financing: international cooperation and new regimes. Routledge, New York

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  3. Auger V (2020) Right-Wing terror: a fifth global wave? Perspect Terror 14(3):87–97. https://doi.org/10.2307/26918302

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  4. An J, Quercia D, Crowcroft J (2013) Fragmented social media: a look into selective exposure to political news. In: Proceedings of the 22nd international conference on world wide web, pp 51–52

    Google Scholar 

  5. Archetti C (2018) The unbearable thinness of strategic communication. In: Countering online propaganda and violent extremism: the dark side of digital diplomacy. Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames

    Google Scholar 

  6. Baugut P, Neumann K (2020) Online propaganda use during Islamist radicalization. Inf Commun Soc 23(11):1570–1592

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  7. Beirich H (2014) White homicide worldwide. Southern Poverty Law Center. https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/d6_legacy_files/downloads/publication/white-homicide-worldwide.pdf. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  8. Benson DC (2014) Why the Internet is not increasing terrorism. Secur Stud 23(2):293–328

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  9. Bergen PL (2002) Holy War, inc.: inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden. Simon and Schuster

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bloom M (2017) Constructing expertise: terrorist recruitment and “talent spotting” in the PIRA, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. Stud Confl Terror 40(7):603–623

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  11. Bodine-Baron E, Helmus TC, Magnuson M, Winkelman Z (2016) Examining ISIS support and opposition networks on Twitter. RAND Corporation Santa Monica United States

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bowman-Grieve L (2009) Exploring “stormfront”: a virtual community of the radical right. Stud Confl Terror 32(11):989–1007

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  13. Bouhana N, Malthaner S, Schuurman B, Lindekilde L, Thornton A, Gill P (2018) Lone-actor terrorism: radicalisation, attack planning and execution. Routledge handbook of terrorism and counterterrorism. Routledge, pp 112–124

    Google Scholar 

  14. Brachman JM (2006) High-tech terror: Al-Qaeda’s use of new technology. Fletcher Forum World Affairs 30:149

    Google Scholar 

  15. Byman D, Chalk C, Hoffman B, Rosenau W, Brannan D (2001) Trends in out-side support for insurgent movement. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California

    Google Scholar 

  16. Clifford B (2012) The global right wing and the clash of world politics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  17. Cuddy A (2019) EU struggles over law to tackle spread of terror online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-47962394. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  18. Comer DE (2018) The internet book: everything you need to know about computer networking and how the internet works (2nd ed). Chapman and Hall/CRC, New York

    Google Scholar 

  19. Conway M (2017) Determining the role of the Internet in violent extremism and terrorism: six suggestions for progressing research. Stud Confl Terror 40(1):77–98

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  20. Counter Terrorism Police (2020) How were tackling online terrorism. https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk/together-were-tackling-online-terrorism/. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  21. Crenshaw M (1981) The causes of terrorism. Comp Polit 13(4):379–399

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  22. Crenshaw M (2003) New versus old terrorism: is today‘s ‘new’ terrorism qualitatively different from pre-September 11 old terrorism. Palest Israel J Polit Econ Cult 10(1):48–53

    Google Scholar 

  23. Cronin AK (2015) ISIS is not a terrorist group: why counterterrorism won’t stop the latest Jihadist threat. Foreign Aff 94(2):87–98

    Google Scholar 

  24. Dion-Schwarz C, Manheim D, Johnston PB (2019) Terrorist use of cryptocurrencies: technical and organizational barriers and future threats. Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  25. Douglas KM, McGarthy C, Bliuc A-M, Lala G (2005) Understanding cyberhate: social competition and social creativity in online white supremacist groups. Soc Sci Comput Rev 23(1):68–76

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  26. Europol (2020) EU terrorism situation & trend report (Te-Sat). https://www.europol.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/european_union_terrorism_situation_and_trend_report_te-sat_2020_0.pdf. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  27. Europa (2020) Digital economy and society statistics—a comparison of households and individuals. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Digital_economy_and_society_statistics_-_households_and_individuals#Internet_access. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  28. Europa (2016) The Internet organised crime threat assessment (IOCTA 2016). https://www.europol.europa.eu/activities-services/main-reports/internet-organised-crime-threat-assessment-iocta-2016#:~:text=The%202016%20Internet%20Organised%20Crime,exploitation%20online%20and%20payment%20fraud. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  29. European Parliament (2020) Terrorist content online: tackling online terrorist propaganda. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/BRIE/2020/649326/EPRS_BRI(2020)649326_EN.pdf. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  30. Forest JJF (2004) Training camps and other centers of learning. In: Forest JJF (ed) Teaching terror: strategic and tactical learning in the terrorist world. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, MD

    Google Scholar 

  31. Freeman M (2011) The sources of terrorist financing: theory and typology. Stud Confl Terror 34:461–475

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  32. Gerwehr S, Daly S (2006) Al-Qaida: terrorist selection and recruitment. RAND Corporation, California

    Google Scholar 

  33. Giraldo JK, Trinkunas HA (2007) Terrorism financing and state responses: a comparative perspective. Stanford University Press, California

    Google Scholar 

  34. Gruen M (2004) White ethnonationalist and political Islamist methods of fund raising and propaganda on the internet. In: Gunaratna R (ed) The changing face of terrorism. Marshall Cavendish, Singapore

    Google Scholar 

  35. Gaudette T, Scrivens R, Venkatesh V (2020) The role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism: insights from former right-wing extremists. Terror Polit Violence 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2020.1784147

  36. Gruen M (2006) Innovative recruitment and indoctrination tactics by extremists: video games, hip-hop, and the world wide web. In: Forest JJF (ed) The making of a terrorist: recruitment, training, and root causes. Praeger, Westport, CT

    Google Scholar 

  37. Halopeau B (2014) Terrorist use of the Internet. In: Cyber crime and cyber terrorism investigator’s handbook. Syngress, pp 123–132

    Google Scholar 

  38. Gill P, Horgan J, Deckert P (2014) Bombing alone: tracing the motivations and antecedent behaviors of lone-actor terrorists. J Forensic Sci 59(2):425–435

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  39. Gill P, Corner E, Conway M, Thornton A, Bloom M, Horgan J (2017) Terrorist use of the Internet by the numbers: quantifying behaviors, patterns, and processes. Criminol Public Policy 16(1):99–117

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  40. Haigh T, Russell AL, Dutton WH (2015) Histories of the Internet. Inf Cult 50:143–159

    Google Scholar 

  41. Home Office. Policy paper, Proscribed terrorist groups or organisations. July 2020. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/901434/20200717_Proscription.pdf. Accessed 6 Jan 2020

  42. Hegghammer T (2010) Un-inspired. http://www.jihadica.com/un-inspired/. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  43. Hemmingby C, Bjørgo T (2015) The dynamics of a terrorist targeting process: Anders B. Breivik and the 22 July attacks in Norway. Springer, New York

    Google Scholar 

  44. Hui JY (2010) The Internet in Indonesia: development and impact of radical websites. Stud Confl Terror 33(2):171–191

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  45. Huey L, Peladeau H (2016) Cheering on the Jihad: an exploration of women’s participation in online Pro-Jihadist networks. TSAS The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society, pp 16–07

    Google Scholar 

  46. Hill KA, Hughes JE (1998) Cyberpolitics: citizen activism in the age of the Internet. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., Lanham

    Google Scholar 

  47. Hoffman B (2006) Inside terrorism: revised and, expanded. Columbia University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  48. Jacobson M (2010) Terrorist financing and the Internet. Stud Confl Terror 33(4):353–363

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  49. Jackall R (ed) (1995) Propaganda, vol 8. NYU Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  50. Jenkins BM (1980) The study of terrorism: definitional problems (No. RAND/P-6563). RAND Corp Santa Monica CA

    Google Scholar 

  51. Jenkins BM (2006) The new age of terrorism. In: Kamen D (ed) The McGrawHill homeland security handbook. McGraw-Hill, New York, pp 117–130

    Google Scholar 

  52. Kenyon P (2010) Exploring the Taliban’s complex, shadowy finances. National Public Radio. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124821049&t=1610968475311. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  53. Knop K (2007) The female Jihad: Al Qaeda’s women. Stud Confl Terror 30(5):397–414

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  54. Killough A (2013) CNN Blog. House Homeland Security chairman believes suspect trained in Russia. https://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/21/house-homeland-security-chairman-believes-suspect-trained-in-russia/. Accessed 10 Jan 2021

  55. Kirby A (2007) The London bombers as “self-starters”: a case study in indigenous radicalization and the emergence of autonomous cliques. Stud Confl Terror 30(5):415–428

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  56. Koehler D (2014) The radical online: individual radicalization processes and the role of the Internet. J Deradicalization 1:116–134

    Google Scholar 

  57. Lanning K (1992) Child molesters: a behavioural analysis. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  58. Lemieux AF, Brachman JM, Levitt J, Wood J (2014) Inspire magazine: a critical analysis of its significance and potential impact through the lens of the information, motivation, and behavioral skills model. Terror Polit Violence 26(2):354–371

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  59. Levy I, Yusuf A (2019) How do terrorist organizations make money? Terrorist funding and innovation in the case of al-Shabaab. Stud Confl Terror 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2019.1628622

  60. Lieberman J, Collins S (2008) Homeland security and government affairs, violent Islamist extremism, the Internet, and the homegrown terrorist threat senate committee 110th congress

    Google Scholar 

  61. Macdonald S, Whittaker J (2019) Radicalization: online terrorist propaganda, recruitment, and radicalization. CRC Press, Boca Ratan

    Google Scholar 

  62. Mehran W, Al Bayati U, Mottet M, Lemieux AF (2020) Deep analysis of Taliban videos: differential use of multimodal, visual and sonic forms across strategic themes. Stud Confl Terror 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1866739

  63. Oftedal E (2015) The financing of Jihadi Terrorist cells in Europe. Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Norway

    Google Scholar 

  64. O’Hara K, Stevens D (2015) Echo chambers and online radicalism: assessing the Internet’s complicity in violent extremism. Policy Internet 7(4):401–422

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  65. O’Neil A (2017) Right wing terrorism in the west: radicalization and decentralization. Пyти к миpy и бeзoпacнocти 1:125–137

    Google Scholar 

  66. Qin J, Xu JJ, Hu D, Sageman M, Chen H (2005) Analyzing terrorist networks: a case study of the global Salafi Jihad Network. In: International conference on intelligence and security informatics. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 287–304

    Google Scholar 

  67. Rapoport DC (2004) The four waves of modern terrorism. Attacking terrorism: elements of a grand strategy. Georgetown University Press, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  68. Roberts H (2016) Logics of Jihadi violence in North Africa. In: Jihadi terrorism and the radicalisation challenge. Routledge, pp 41–58

    Google Scholar 

  69. Sageman M (2008) The next generation of terror. Foreign Policy 165:37

    Google Scholar 

  70. Schuurman B, Bakker E, Gill P, Bouhana N (2018) Lone actor terrorist attack planning and preparation: a data-driven analysis. J Forensic Sci 63(4):1191–1200

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  71. Stenersen A (2008) The Internet: a virtual training camp? Terror Polit Violence 20(2):215–233

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  72. Tamimi A (2007) Hamas: a history. Olive Branch Press, Oslo

    Google Scholar 

  73. Thomas TL (2003) Al Qaeda and the Internet: the danger of ‘cyberplanning’. Foreign Military Studies Office (ARMY) Fort Leavenworth Ks

    Google Scholar 

  74. Tkacheva O (2013) Internet freedom and political space. Rand Corporation, California

    Google Scholar 

  75. Tsesis A (2017) Terrorist incitement on the Internet. Fordham Law Rev 86(2):367

    Google Scholar 

  76. Tufan E, Gul H, Manap Ö, Hamarat B (2019) ISIS, an artificial terrorist organisation and bitcoin. In: Proceedings of the international scientific and practical conference “Bulgaria of regions”, vol 2, no 1

    Google Scholar 

  77. Urman A, Katz S (2020) What they do in the shadows: examining the far-right networks on Telegram. Inf Commun Soc 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2020.1803946

  78. Vogel L (2016) Why are doctors joining ISIS? Can Med Assoc J 188(3):177–178

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  79. Weimann G (2006) Terror on the internet: the new arena, the new challenges. US Institute of Peace Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  80. Weimann G (2005) How modern terrorism uses the Internet. J Int Secur Affairs (8) (unpaged)

    Google Scholar 

  81. Weimann G (2016) Terrorist migration to the dark web. Perspect Terror 10(3):40–44

    Google Scholar 

  82. Winter C, Neumann P, Meleagrou-Hitchens A, Ranstorp M, Vidino L, Fürst J (2020) Online extremism: research trends in internet activism, radicalization, and counter-strategies. Int J Confl Violence 14(2):1–20

    Google Scholar 

  83. World Bank (2020) Internet penetration rates by country. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS?most_recent_year_desc=true. Accessed 28 Dec 2020

  84. Woods J (2007) What we talk about when we talk about terrorism: elite press coverage of terrorism risk from 1997–2005. Int J Press/Politics 12(3):3–20

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  85. Wolfowicz M (2015) A social learning theory examination of the complicity of personalization algorithms in the creation of echo chambers of online radicalization to violent extremism

    Google Scholar 

  86. Wright M (2008) Technology and terrorism: how the internet facilitates radicalization. Forensic Exam 17(4)

    Google Scholar 

  87. Yayla AS, Speckhard A (2017) Telegram: the mighty application that ISIS loves. May, 9, 332-0

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Reza Montasari .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Rees, J., Montasari, R. (2022). The Impact of the Internet and Cyberspace on the Rise in Terrorist Attacks Across the US and Europe. In: Adlakha-Hutcheon, G., Masys, A. (eds) Disruption, Ideation and Innovation for Defence and Security. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06636-8_7

Download citation