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Do you believe that we are winning the war on terrorism online? Why or why not? Suggest one policy implication that you think should be put in place to target one area of national security and/or terrorism online and discuss how this policy would help to thwart terroristic activities online or better protect people in the online environment.
After posting your original post, be sure to engage in discussion with your peers.
I don’t believe we are winning the war on terrorism online. The fact is, the war is far from over. The growth of social media has resulted in the spread of propaganda and recruitment of terrorists. The internet is particularly well suited for the spread of ideologies to the global audience because of communication channels that are largely unfetted (Bolechow, 2006). The internet is the best tool used by domestic and international terrorists because it affords easy access, minimal regulation and censorship, speed, low costs, the anonymity of communication and the ability to share multimedia in the forms of images, audio, texts and video (Weimann, 2005). Internet and the use of technology is evolving, and terrorists are aware of this. Popular digital platforms such as Twitter, online chat rooms, open and password-protected forums and other social networking sites such as Google+ and Facebook have become attractive tools to reaching a global audience. Terrorists have been using the internet to spread fear, educate the public about their ideologies, obtain funding and organize events (Bates & Mooney, 2014).
When it comes to fighting terrorism, the internet needs to be closely monitored. Policies need to focus on criminalizing acts and behaviors that promote terrorism, promoting international relationship, regulating the internet and its content, and providing investigative powers to law enforcement agencies (Ogun, 2012).
Bates, R. A., & Mooney, M. (2014). Psychological operations and terrorism: The digital domain. The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology, 6(1), 2.
Bolechów, B. (2006). Internet as a flexible tool of terrorism. Terrorism, Media, Society, 33, 44.
Weimann, G. (2005). Cyberterrorism: The sum of all fears?. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 28(2), 129-149.
Ogun, M. N. (2012). Terrorist use of internet: possible suggestions to prevent the usage for terrorist purposes. Journal of Applied Security Research, 7(2), 203-217.
I do not think that we are winning or losing. I would say a more accurate description is that we are keeping pace. Because many of the people recruited for terrorism often share certain psychological traits, we would need to address those traits in order to truly be in a position to win. Many of those recruited for terrorism are younger people who are impressionable, disenfranchised and seeking a cause (Bates et al, 2014). The logic being that as long as there are people in that category, along with experienced terrorists looking to recruit them, the best we can do is keep pace.
The way we are keeping pace is in our prevention of terrorist plots. Key components of prevention are counterintelligence and counter terrorism activities (Wray, 2019). In addition, the USA PATRIOT act opened up a lot of different avenues for law enforcement to track and investigate those with terrorist aspirations within the United States (DoJ, n.d.). We must be ready to rapidly adapt with terrorists and their methods if we intend to at least keep pace.
One way to move forward is with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) as part of counterintelligence, counter terrorism, and within the parameters of the USA PATRIOT Act. Using AI predictive analysis, for example, can assist in predicting a terrorist network’s restructure should one of its actors be removed (UN, 2021). This would help intelligence agencies better plan their next move by knowing the next person in succession and what they are likely to do.
Wray, C. (2019, Oct 30). Global terrorism: threats to the homeland. Department of Justice. (n.d.). The usa patriot act: preserving life and liberty. Accessed on December 10, 2021 from United Nations. (2021). Countering terrorism online with artificial intelligence.