The Internet as Ideological Battleground
School of Computer and Information Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Recent global events that have brought to light the use of new technologies by terrorist groups have focused attention on the role of the internet in the radicalisation of vulnerable individuals and groups towards a violent extremism. In 2007, the case of Abdul Basheer, a law graduate in Singapore arrested for attempting to join the Taliban in Afghanistan drew attention to the use of the Internet as a source of inspiration and information for would be terrorists. More recently Sydney man Belal Khazaal became the first person to be convicted on the charge of making a document connected with assisting in a terrorist act after using material already available on the internet to develop his own publication "The Rules of Jihad - Short Judicial Rulings and Organisational Instructions For Fighters And Mujahideen Against Infidels". Both cases point to the developing role of the Internet in the process of radicalisation and suggest that the Internet has become an important tactical tool in the terrorists’ repertoire. The role of the Internet in radicalisation and the extent to which it contributes to the process through which latent beliefs translate into violent actions is not fully understood. However, with the developing strand of terrorism studies that deals with the diffusion of intent as an integral component of counter terrorism efforts has come an understanding of terrorism as a battle of words and ideas. Nowhere is this more evident than on the internet.