Virtual Radicalisation: Challenges for Police

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


School of Computer and Infomation Science, Edith Cowan University

Place of Publication

Perth, Western Australia


Computing, Health and Science


Computing, Health and Science




This paper was originally published as: O'Rourke, S. (2007, December). Virtual radicalisation: Challenges for police. In proceedings of the 8th Australian Information Warfare and Security Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia. Original article available here


Recent advances in communications technology are providing a medium for individuals or groups to subscribe to extremist worldviews and form networks, access training and obtain information, whilst remaining virtually undetected in the online world. Whilst the Internet is facilitating global virtual communities like Second Life, MySpace and Facebook it is also providing an anonymous meeting place for disenfranchised individuals to gather, share ideas, post and exchange information regarding their particular ideology. This virtual community provides a sense of belonging to a global cause in which the actions of an individual can be aligned to, and seen to contribute towards something more significant than their own lives. Membership of this virtual community can facilitate the indoctrination of individuals, thereby negating psychological barriers that would normally inhibit particular types of behaviour. Terrorist groups operate as amorphous, fluid networks providing them significant advantages over rigidly structured state and nation based law enforcement agencies. In addition terrorist groups are exploiting the combination of rapidly evolving technology and incommodious legislation to prevent detection.