IPI HomeEventsPanel DiscussionsTracking Al-Qaida: Terrorism and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century

 

print print  |  share share back back

Panel Discussions - Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tracking Al-Qaida: Terrorism and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century

Earlier this month, the International Peace Institute hosted a lunchtime policy forum on "Tracking Al-Qaida: Terrorism and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century," with speakers Dr. Marc Sageman, Scholar in Residence at the New York Police Department, and Mr. Evan Kohlmann, an international terrorism consultant. The event, attended by diplomats, practitioners, and researchers, focused on the changing nature of recruitment and social interaction among violent extremists due to the growing use of the internet.
Describing such communities as "blobs," due to their amorphous, porous nature, Dr. Sageman argued that the internet has allowed networks to develop in environments where relative anonymity and comparatively low risks encourage the development of intense relationships. These then fuel peer pressure and moral outrage (at often vicariously shared grievances), which in turn moves participants to support or engage in violent, radical activities.

Mr. Kohlmann described the more operational activities of terrorist groups--primarily al-Qaida--online, and highlighted the internet as a vehicle for the creation of social networks, which, in the case of many terrorist groups, were formerly formed on street-corners, in community centers, or in other social venues, but have now migrated to chatrooms and other internet fora. Furthermore, he pointed out the elusive nature of these fora, noting that many of the sites that were active as recently as 2006 have since been shut down and replaced by new sites, posing a challenge to lawmakers whose approach is often to target particular domains. Both experts noted, however, that of the many thousands who visit extremist internet chatrooms, only a small minority ultimately engage in violent activities.

This timely discussion followed the release of a report by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force's Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorism Purposes, as well as a report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence on "Countering Online Radicalisation: A Strategy for Action". In addition, this event builds on IPI's ongoing work on the international responses to terrorism and violent extremism, and the role of multilateral organizations, such as the UN, in this effort.

Welcoming Remarks
Mr. Warren Hoge,
Vice President and Director of External Relations, International Peace Institute

Moderator
Mr. Richard Barrett,
Coordinator, Al Qaeda/Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team

Speakers
Dr. Marc Sageman,
Scholar in Residence, New York Police Department

Mr. Evan Kohlmann,
founder, Global Terrorism Alert; Senior Investigator, NEFA (Nine Eleven Finding Answers)

The Global Observatory

Are Recent Prison Breaks in Nigeria Part of a Southward Expansion by Boko Haram?
Whoever is behind them, these prison breaks signal that Nigeria’s authorities are struggling to maintain the rule of law, not just in the far northeast, but also in the Middle Belt and the southwest.

Key Global Events to Watch in December
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

December 09, 2014
Small States in a Multilateral World
Despite their size and limited resources, small states have an important and crucial role to play in the multilateral system and can leverage their power through cooperation.

December 02, 2014
Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict: From Concept to Norm
Five years after the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1894, the concept of Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (PoC) has become a widely accepted norm at the UN, featuring more and more in Council mandates and becoming a cornerstone of UN missions on the ground.

November 27, 2014
Dialogue on Multilateralism Continues in Geneva
The Geneva launch of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) took place on November 27th in the Palais de Nations, the UN headquarters in Geneva which used to be the seat of the League of Nations.

View More