Terrorist Chatter – Understanding what terrorists talk about
Working Paper No. 03
Since the early 2000s the Internet has become particularly crucial for the global jihadist movement. Nowhere has the Internet been more important in the movement’s development than in the West. While dynamics differ from case to case, it is fair to state that almost all recent cases of radicalization in the West involve at least some digital footprint. Jihadists, whether structured groups or unaffiliated sympathizers, have long understood the importance of the Internet in general and social media, in particular. Zachary Chesser, one of the individuals studied in this report, fittingly describes social media as “simply the most dynamic and convenient form of media there is.” As the trend is likely to increase, understanding how individuals make the leap to actual militancy is critically important.
This study is based on the analysis of the online activities of seven individuals. They share several key traits. All seven were born or raised in the United States. All seven were active in online and offline jihadist scene around the same time (mid‐ to late 2000s and early 2010s). All seven were either convicted for terrorism‐related offenses (or, in the case of two of the seven, were killed in terrorism‐related incidents.)
The intended usefulness of this study is not in making the case for monitoring online social media for intelligence purpose—an effort for which authorities throughout the West need little encouragement. Rather, the report is meant to provide potentially useful pointers in the field of counter‐radicalization. Over the past ten years many Western countries have devised more or less extensive strategies aimed at preventing individuals from embracing radical ideas or de‐radicalizing (or favoring the disengagement) of committed militants. (Canada is also in the process of establishing its own counter‐radicalization strategy.)
|Norman Paterson School of International Affairs|
|NPSIA Working Paper Series|
|Organisation||Norman Paterson School of International Affairs|
Vidino, Lorenzo, Kilberg, J, Lefkowitz, Josh, & Kohlmann, Evan. (2015). Terrorist Chatter – Understanding what terrorists talk about. NPSIA Working Paper Series. Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.