17 November 2014
The transnational militant organisation Islamic State, which has seized control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria in the past year, recently published its online magazine, Dabiq. Its articles in Arabic and several other languages including French, German, Russian and Indonesian focus on ideological and strategic narratives, unlike Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine that contained bomb-making recipes and other terrorist instructions. Inspire and Dabiq represent two major challenges of online extremism, namely the Internet as a terrorist learning laboratory and the spread of extremist narratives to promote online radicalisation.
The spread of terrorist tradecraft online and the appearance of e-learning courses on explosives on certain extremist forums have heightened concerns about the use of the Internet as terrorist learning sources. However, the utility of online manuals is somewhat limited as they provide only abstract knowledge. Real-world training and combat experience in conflict areas such as Syria and Iraq remain the chief avenues for acquiring terrorist skills.
The value of online media as a virtual terrorist class might not be as significant as initially thought due to the limitations of terrorist online manuals. However, the Internet has been particularly useful as a propaganda tool as it allows extremists to spread their messages to a global audience on an unprecedented scale.
…Navhat Nuraniyah is an Associate Research Fellow at the Centre of Excellence for National Security (CENS), a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This commentary first appeared in RSIS Commentaries.
CENS / RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 17/11/2014