Custom «Use of the Internet in Terrorism» Essay Paper Sample

Use of the Internet in Terrorism

Terrorism has become a thorn to international peace as it threatens the lives of many people who don’t buy terrorists’ ideologies. Terrorists are fighting both on the ground and in the Internet. The web is one of the most efficient media through which terror groups can communicate among themselves and with the entire world. According to Weimann (2008), the growing use of modern communication by terror organizations has aided terroristic activities. Some of the most peace threatening terror groups are al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, Lashkar e-Taiba (Sanei, 2015), Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab (Krech, 2011) among many others. Therefore, the Internet is a channel through which these communities advance their functions and threaten international peace.

Statement of Purpose

Terror groups such as al Qaeda use the Internet with the primary aim of spreading propaganda, recruitment of new members, financing some of terrorist activities, and so forth (Jacobson, 2010). If the web, including the use of social media, benefits these organizations in the performance of their operations, then terror groups are bound to expand and cause more troubles to innocent individuals. What makes the Internet suitable for the application by the communities are its ease of access, vast potential audiences, a lack of proper regulation, and a fast flow of information (Jacobson, 2010). Such things suit the groups to terrorize societies and achieve their goals. This essay looks forward to discussing how an easy access to the Internet and or social media aids terrorism. In doing this, the paper will discuss the ways through which terror groups are using the web to advance their functions. The careful and thorough searches of information from varied literature sources will aid address the research question.

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Research Question

Can an easy access to technology through the Internet/social media aid in terrorism?

Literature Review

An easy access to the Internet including the social media aids terrorism since various functions of brutal terror groups are perpetuated through this media. Terrorists use the web in varied ways so as to fulfill terror purposes. There are jihadist websites that effectively communicate the information to targeted audiences so as to achieve various objectives (Theohary & Rollins, 2011). Theohary and Rollins (2011) assert that a good number of Arabic online sources contain coded plans aimed to perpetuate new attacks, the information on how to build and use a weapon, and pass through border checkpoints among others. Moreover, some of the youngest extremists and terrorists such as the ones behind London bombings of July 2005 are using computers to learn on how to avoid the detection by nations’ law enforcement (Theohary & Rollins, 2011). Such a thing means that an easy access to the Internet helps terrorism advance its functions and prevent exposure after its detrimental acts. Several functions and ways exist through which terrorists use the web.

Fundraising

Just like many other organizations, terror groups use the Internet to solicit funds for use in their activities. For instance, al Qaeda heavily relied on donations, and its renowned global fundraising networks that are built upon the foundation of nongovernmental organizations, charities, as well as other institutions of finance (Rogan, 2006). The soliciting of these funds was mostly through the websites in addition to Internet-based chat rooms and forums. Theohary and Rollins (2011) say that Hizb al-Tahrir, the Sunni extremist group, uses the websites that stretch from Africa to Europe asking its supporters to assist its efforts by making money contributions and donate to the cause of jihad. Social media may be the best tool for such organizations to spread the messages of why and how to finance their activities. Bankin information such as the accounts on which donated money can be deposited for Hizb al-Tahrir is on the site, which is based in Germany (Theohary & Rollins, 2011). The Internet is the only best way to reach to the general public and publicize bank accounts for which sympathizers can provide the cost. The use of emails and other channels on the web that can help in identifying the supporters of the terror groups may be handy for the groups in determining who their sympathizers are. Such thing may also be possible when the one is depositing money to terror group bank accounts. The reason is that personal details may be submitted including the location of a donor.

Various examples of how terrorists use the Internet and social media to solicit for funds exist. Theohary and Rollins (2011) provide several incidences that have proven that the web aids in such activities. In the first example, Hamas used to receive money from Texas-based charity called the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF). This group was legally registered in the US. Upon knowing how important it was in financing the terror groups, the US government was compelled to seize its assets in 2001. The Hamas used the Internet and social media in soliciting for funds. It must have been seeking these costs in disguise that the money could be utilized for its activities, only to find that it was supporting terrorism. Other legitimate charity organizations that the US froze their assets for using the web to finance terrorism are Al-Haramain Foundation, the Global Relief Foundation, and the Benevolence International Foundation. Theohary and Rollins (2011) ascertain that the US had the substantial evidence funneled some of its Internet generated money to al Qaeda.

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In the second example, a Saudi graduate was found to be involved in terrorism through a way of using the web to advance terror acts. In 2004, he was charged by a federal grand jury of conspiring to help terrorism wage jihad through the use of the Internet to field recruits, raise funds, and locate prospective targets of the US in the Middle East (Goth, 2008). Similarly, another doctoral candidate from the University of Idaho involved in computer science Sami Omar Hussayen was accused of promoting terrorism through the web and the social media (Goth, 2008). He was charged with creating an email group as well as Internet websites to disseminate information not only for him but also for two radical Saudi Arabian clerics who supported jihad. Such data may have included the soliciting of funds for terrorism among others. Therefore, the easy access to the Internet aids terrorism through perpetuating efforts to raise money for terrorists.

Recruitment of New Terrorists

The Internet is an excellent forum for advertisements and publication of messages intended to recruit new people into various jobs. Terrorism is not left behind when it comes to promoting with the aim of recruiting terroristic professionals. Theohary and Rollins (2011) claim that the web is not only a medium for soliciting funds from sympathizers but also for recruiting and mobilizing supporters to play an active role in terroristic activities. Since terrorists capture the personal information from its supporters who sometimes donate funds through the Internet, they may contact them using the information obtained. Through this, they may persuade their fans to come and join the groups. On the same line, recruiters may use web technology to chat with the members of the public, especially young people. The interaction can yield some powerful, persuasive messages to young individuals who may receive propaganda from  terrorists and finally get convinced to join the peace threatening groups.

Moreover, the work of young individuals may be noted using the Internet, and if terror groups are happy with such work, they may be compelled to approach young people and persuade them to join their organizations. Such a thing may happen after the skills possessed by the individuals are seen to be critical in advancing terrorism. A good example is that of Ziyad Khalil, the US al Qaeda’s procurement officer, as reported by Costigan (2007). Khalil joined Columbia College in Missouri as a computer science major. During this time, he became a Muslim activist on the college campus and started to develop some links to many radical groups in addition to operating a website that supported the Hamas. As a result of his activities, al Qaeda spotted him as a lucrative person who could help this international terror organization advance its operations. At this point, it is clear that if it were not for the use of the Internet, al Qaeda couldn't have spotted this skilled man. Then the al Qaeda’s leader, bin Laden and his lieutenants, went for Khalil. In the long run, he became one of the core pillars of this organization’s activities. Denning (2007) and Costigan (2007) report that Khalil finally became the procurement officer of the community in the US, who worked by arranging purchases of computers, satellite telephones, and other devices that helped Laden communicate with his agents and followers. Therefore, it is clear that the easy access to the Internet can help terrorism, especially in recruiting new members.

Planning and Coordination of Activities

Terrorists use the Internet to coordinate and plan their activities. The reason for this is because it is easier to access information, plans, and messages on the web within a short period. Some of the deadliest terror acts have been successful because of the use of the global network. For instance, it was revealed in the aftermath of the US September 11, 2001, bombings, that al Qaeda used the Internet to plan the lethal attacks (Sidhu, 2014). The planning involved Laden’s communication with his members and followers as they arranged the ways of hitting the US to have a powerful impact. Sidhu (2015) and Rogan (2006) explain that this terror group used the web and social media in collecting information such as the time of flights. The Internet was also employed by the group's members to communicate reliably and promptly by sharing information and coordinating their attacks.

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It is very surprising to find out that some of the terrorists who masterminded the September 11 bombings used laptops to access the web. The US Institute of Peace (2014) asserts that two of the plane hijackers in the blasts heavily relied on their computers. The two ones couldn’t check into hotel rooms in Florida unless they received around-the-clock Internet access. Furthermore, some of them used the web on their laptops to purchase airline tickets, obtain fake driver's licenses, and steal Social Security numbers. The US Institute of Peace (2014) further says that Mohamed Atta, the September 11 bombings leader, had used the network on his laptop to go online from Hamburg in Germany. He researched the US aviation schools among many other things. It is alarming and surprising to realize that these terrorists used the Internet in public places and even went ahead to acquire or send messages via public emails.

Conclusion

Terrorism is a threat to world peace as it threatens the lives of many people and property. An example is the September 11 attack, which did not only claim the lives but also the buildings destroyed by the planes. Some of the terror groups that have had an enormous impact in the world are the al Qaeda and the Hamas. They often use the Internet and social media in carrying out their terrorist activities. This paper is in agreement with the research question because it just asserts that an easy access to technology through the web aids terrorism. Terror groups have advanced some of their functions using the Internet because of its advantages. Some of the duties include seeking for funds from the public and sympathizers, recruiting of new terrorists, and planning and coordinating various activities.

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