The world is facing a new threat and it is not in form of disease. It is a new type of war and it is called terrorism. A terrorist can be defined as someone who uses low means like violence, destruction and mayhem for coercion.
Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code
“International terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S., or transcend national boundaries in terms of the means by which they are accomplished, the persons they appear intended to intimidate or coerce, or the locale in which their perpetrators operate or seek asylum.*
“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Gone are the days when terror was just simple nuisance like when Americans damaged ships that were carrying tea in Boston. Terror has truly become terror. It has become more sneaky and deadly.
International terrorism is changing in ways that may make it more dangerous and difficult to combat. Despite the fall of the communist bloc, which once provided support to left-wing terrorists, and the resulting reduction in the number of states supporting terrorism, incidents reported around the world have not decreased. Moreover, terrorist attacks are becoming more lethal: according to a recent report to the US Congress, in the 1990s a terrorist incident was almost 20% more likely to result in death than an incident two decades ago. Although significant, this is not the only change occurring in international terrorism. Terrorist groups now have different motivations, organisation, structures and tools.
Times and political environment have always shaped the definition of terrorism. It is significant to note that, so far, most definitions adopted by governments and international bodies include three basic characteristics: terrorism (1) is aimed at non-combatants; (2) uses violence to exact revenge, influence or intimidate an audience; and (3) is premeditated and politically motivated. The most recent definitions do not limit motives only to the political sphere but include “religious, or other ideological objectives”.
Terrorists today have found a more powerful fool that furthers their cause of destruction and that is the internet. Recently Twitter shut down many accounts that were run by terrorist groups. Terrorist groups use the internet to recruit more followers, get funded and even spread propaganda.
Means by which the Internet is utilized for terrorist purposes
For the purposes of the present publication, a functional approach has been adopted regarding the classification of the means by which the Internet is often utilized to promote and support acts of terrorism. This approach has resulted in the identification of six sometimes overlapping categories: propaganda (including recruitment, radicalization and incitement to terrorism); financing; training; planning (including through secret communication and open-source information); execution; and cyberattacks. Each of these categories is addressed in greater detail below.
One of the primary uses of the Internet by terrorists is for the dissemination of propaganda. Propaganda generally takes the form of multimedia communications providing ideological or practical instruction, explanations, justifications or promotion of terrorist activities. These may include virtual messages, presentations, magazines, treatises, audio and video files and video games developed by terrorist organizations or sympathizers. Nevertheless, what constitutes terrorist propaganda, as opposed to legitimate advocacy of a viewpoint, is often a subjective assessment. Further, the dissemination of propaganda is generally not, in and of itself, a prohibited activity. One of the 2See, for example, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.