Global Terrorism And New Media

“The post – Al Qaeda generation”

Philip Seib and Dana M. Janbek in their book Global Terrorism and New Media have relied on years of research to provide this insightful insight into how terrorist groups have comprised and exploited the new media, and its “success has been enabled in part by clever use of new media, principally the numerous tools provided by the Internet” (p. viii).

“Philip Seib is Professor of Journalism and Public Diplomacy, Professor of International Relations, and Director of the Centre on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California” (p. 2).

“Dana M. Janbek is Assistant Professor at the Department of Communications at Lasell College” (p. 2).

The book consists of seven chapters that cover the definition and framing of “terrorism” and “terrorist,” a look at terrorists’ use of new media tools, whom their propaganda efforts are targeting, and their future with new media, as well as suggestions for responding to the threat.

While the book covers the activities of non-Muslim groups such as FARC, it focuses on Islamic terror groups because they were at the lead of the benefit of technological advances. The authors also hope to convey a real-world view of terrorism, stimulating the misuse of the label “terrorist” and the concept of “jihad”; with the intention of, providing its readers with a more refined view of the topic rather than settling for what is simply proposed by the majority of media.  While the core of the analysis is considerate that there is no terrorism without communication. The primary objective of terrorist groups is to send a political message. Violence itself is utilised to make the message known to a wider audience by creating a remarkable and dreadful media event. The groups that can communicate their message more effectively are the ones that become the strongest and most influential. Global terrorism and the new media show how exploiting new forms of communication has enabled communities to create far greater influence than previously possible and evolve from isolated groups that carry out symbolic attacks limited to becoming global network expansionist attacks in conjunction with technologically advanced propaganda. This book is a realistic treatment of the subject that seeks to understand the motives of terrorists and how they work. The analysis of terrorist objectives and means and the identification of trends can enable the book to produce a reasonable description of possible future responses to the challenges posed by terrorism in the era of the new media. While finding a solid definition of terrorism is important, the authors argue, “determining why and how terrorists act as they do has greater practical value” (p. 6).

The book confirms that the West is now involved in a “21st-century media war” against an enemy that produces sustained and effective propaganda. The modernity of the Internet means that there are not yet sufficient restrictions on the use of terrorists by this means, which gives them the freedom to produce uncensored propaganda. Terrorists are now able to bypass the old media – gatekeepers – who are gradually working with the existing government and have in the past worked to limit terrorists’ access and attractiveness. The Internet is also cheap and flexible – terrorist sites can be re-established in new addresses for virtually any cost once governments close them. At the same time, the ability to remain anonymous on the Internet allows terrorists to escape arrest and work in relative safety. The message itself can be designed specifically for the public in seeking to promote community claims, creating fear in the enemy while reaching potential supporters to attract new recruits and raise funds. Above all, the globalized nature of the new media allows the terrorist message to be spread to an audience far beyond its former scope, allowing extremism at some distance and making face-to-face interaction unnecessary. New media has also been valuable tools that allow terrorist groups to organize training camps or provide guidance and training on the Internet. Terrorists planned and carried out specific violent attacks, using applications such as Google Earth to explore locations, GPS, e-mail, and text to coordinate operations.

Terrorist media strategies are evolving with every new twist in technology. The terrorist groups, competing against both legitimate governments and other public support groups, have begun to exploit Web 2.0, which has enabled the online communication model to progress beyond delivering the message to a passive audience. They have adopted the interactive character of the Internet 2.0 network and social networking sites such as Facebook, which is most vulnerable to youthful use. This is a large set of potential new support for exploitation, because communication is increasing in Islamic countries, and 60 per cent of the Arab Muslim population is under thirty years old. In addition, the creation of virtual support networks facilitated by the Internet 2.0 accelerates extremism by increasing the personal involvement of the recruit.

The book concludes with an assessment of probable responses to the terrorist threat. The authors highlight the problems of previous approaches and call for a strategy that moves away from the conventional warfare (hard powers) toward a political (soft power) approach with media-based tactics that endorse a positive narrative of globalization and moderate Islam. They stress the limits of military combating terrorism (because the enemy will not stand and fight) and judge that the effect of detaining terrorist leaders may be exaggerated. As an alternative, the new media communications network is now giving Islamic terrorist groups much of their authority. While an electronic war against a terrorist presence on the Internet can disrupt their communication and have some limited use, Ideas published through the new media are the most important focus of the fight against terrorism. The West should follow a strategy to promote its positive messages, but more importantly, the book believes that this battle of ideas will be combated primarily within Islam, where moderates argue against radical ideology and try to isolate terrorist groups from the Muslim public. They observe how the Internet has now become the main global forum for debate on the future of Islam, with “stars” such as moderate Amr Khaled and traditionalist Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who exercises great influence using new media.

Global terrorism and new media cover the point that two key security issues which meets-terrorism and control information in the Internet age. The book explains in detail how terrorists are effectively communicating by way of the web and satellite television to further their cause; Thus, it is very useful and reasonable to study the status of current issues for those interested in security issues. What is particularly useful is that it focuses on fighting terrorism and address the challenges we face in the future in a thoughtful way. For this reason, this book is a must-read for scholars involved in terror avoidance, security revisions, or political science, as well as government and military officers who have the liability of guardianship towards homeland vis-à-vis terrorists.

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