Nets of Terror: Terrorist Activity on the Internet by ProQuest


While similar to all-out recruitment in techniques, fundraising is often more open and blatant. Websites for "popular" terrorist organizations often have links such as "What You Can Do" or "How Can I Help." Visitors to such websites are often monitored and researched; likely candidates (repeat visitors and those who stay for long periods of time) are contacted and offered additional information or asked for assistance.

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									                                                                                                                         NETS OF TERROR

Nets of Terror
Terrorist Activity on the Internet
                                                   I approached this article with both fascination and some trepidation.
                                                       My original interest was piqued by a Knight Ridder news article written in late
                                                   September of 20071 claiming that the internet was the new terrorist frontier. I have
                                                   to admit the concept of terrorists openly advertising on the web seemed astound-
                                                   ing. Though we all know anything is possible on the internet, it also seemed like a
                                                   media ploy to drum up more fear. Two websites referred to in the articles, Jihad Uni-
by                                                 versity and Terrorist 007, proved to be something other than specific websites. How-
Paul Piper                                         ever, this opened the door to thinking about how terrorists were using the internet,
Reference Librarian                                if at all. On one hand, what better way to spread propaganda, recruit volunteers, and
Western Libraries                                  raise funds than via the web? On the other hand, didn’t this open one’s group to
Western Washington University                      infiltration and subsequent destruction?

Just what is a terrorist anyway?                                     of Chapter 113b of the Federal Criminal Code defines terrorism
The word has become ubiquitous and been used to describe             as “[A]ctivities that involve violent or life-threatening acts; that
individuals, nations, policies, religions, and on the other end      are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any
of the spectrum, abusive spouses, angry drivers, and even            State; and appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a
“tough love” parenting.                                              civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government
   The decision to write the article raised other more personal      by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a gov-
concerns. Would these sites be in English? I can’t read Arabic and   ernment by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
online translation services are faulty. Would the sites be pass-     … (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the
word guarded? And, if so, how would potential recruits get the       United States … [or] … (D) occur primarily outside the territo-
passwords? Would I be monitored for visiting them (either by         rial jurisdiction of the United States …”2 However, even this lan-
our government, the terrorist group, or both)? What might the        guage can seem vague and even contradictory, particularly when
consequences of such monitoring be? The last thing I wanted          examining rules of armed conflict. Some of the numerous other
was to end up taped to a chair under mercury vapor lights and        definitions are also contradictory.
have sand drizzled into my eyes — particularly after an all-            Several overarching concepts apply when discussing terror-
expenses-paid government flight to Gitmo.                            ism. The first is the concept of warfare. Terrorist states and
                                                                     organizations often claim that they are at war and that this sta-
                                                                     tus justifies so-called terrorist acts. While according to the
Terrorism: Defining the Concept ■ ■ ■ ■
                                                                     Geneva Convention, this is debatable, it does bring to light
  Terrorism is an emotionally charged word. It is also overused      another concept, the concept of rules of engagement, torture,
and misused, referring to anything from a suicide bomber to an       and so forth. If the rules of warfare or engagement are created
abusive husband to a politician of different stripes. Section 2331   by the “opposition,” then the terrorists often refuse to follow                                                                                    November/December 2008      29

them, claiming a disenfranchised or marginalized contribution           explosive-device instructions, biological and nuclear weapons,
in creating the rules. The concept of Jihad, or Holy War, is an         and much, much more. It was no accident that the U.S. and
example of warfare that operates under very differen
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