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The Cyber Defense Review

New Tools, New Vulnerabilities: The Emerging Cyber-Terrorism Dyad

By Harrison Doyle | August 27, 2015

Defining Cyberspace and Force Multipliers

As we move toward a world where the boundaries between kinetic and non-kinetic battlefield environments are more blurred, it has become increasingly recognized that cyberspace and its uses are not entirely divorced from the tangible world and must be considered part and parcel of modern warfare. This is confirmed by Drs. Jarno Limnell and Dr. Jan Hanska who state that, “modern warfare demands the effective use of cyber, kinetic, and combined cyber and kinetic capabilities,” and that all future conflicts will entail the use of cyber leverage against the opposing party to achieve victory.[1] This is because cyberspace allows any party to initiate an attack instantaneously, from any part of the world, and is therefore a force multiplier for any party which employs it. The definition put forth by the Department of Defense, defines a force multiplier as “…a capability that, when added to and employed by a combat force, significantly increase the combat potential of that force and thus enhances the probability of successful mission accomplishment.”[2]

With this definition in mind, this paper will assess whether cyberspace has acted as a force multiplier for Islamic terrorist organizations. For discussion purposes, the term “cyberspace” will refer to the “‘operational domain framed by use of electronics to…exploit information via interconnected systems and their associated infrastructure.’”[3] “Cyberterrorism” will refer to the use of “information technology and means by terrorist groups and agents.”[4] This includes the use of information technology to coordinate and execute attacks in support of a given group’s activities. Cyberspace is the ideal tool through which terrorist groups can wreak havoc against other actors, due in no small part to the fact that unlike conventional warfare, barriers to entry to cyberspace are far lower. To launch a cyberattack “…all a person needs is a computer, an internet connection and technological knowledge.”[5]  All of this can be accomplished anonymously, and because the internet was designed with ease of use in mind rather than security, offense in the cyber domain “currently has the advantage over the defense.”[6] So, while non-state actors do not possess the same capacities as large governments, cyberspace is facilitating their ability to launch low-cost attacks with far greater frequency.


Islamic Terrorist Groups

            According to the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College, Islamic terrorism leverages cyberspace to facilitate several activities: propaganda efforts; recruitment and training; general fundraising; communications; and targeting.[7] This same study found that Islamic terrorists seek to target specific audiences, in particular, the educated but disenfranchised, as well as the “intelligentsia in Islamic countries, and the well-educated expatriates residing in Western countries.”[8] A website frequently used to reach these audiences is the Alneda site, the name of which translates roughly into English as “the call” or “the calling.” It was launched in 1997 under the guise of an Islamic Studies and Research Center, and was used by 2003 as one of Al-Qa’ida’s primary outlets for official statements released by the group. The group’s persistent use of this particular site, combined with the fact that the site has been a frequent target of pro-American activists and hackers, has lent credibility to the statements it has released. As a complement to the use of this site, since the summer of 2002 Al-Qa’ida has also maintained a presence online by piggy-backing off of legitimate sites and burying its file structure into the “seemingly innocuous subdirectories of [such] legitimate site[s].”[9]

The surreptitious use of legitimate sites to advance terrorist objectives is what terrorist groups have begun referring to as ‘Electronic Jihad’, the latest means through which to assist in the war against the infidels. This new form of jihad can be accomplished through the use of discussion boards, and through the cultivation and active pursuit of hacking skills by jihadists. Activity on discussion sites involves advocating Jihad and its virtues by putting out research and “knowledge-based articles relating to Jihad,” [10] providing online users “with a range of sources and quotations that previously could only be amassed after a lifetime of study.”[11] The cultivation of hacking activity on the other hand involves developing the skillsets of those technically-savvy Jihadists within their respective communities, so as to ensure that where they reside, they have the means to “undermine local authorities”[12] and contribute to the destruction of “….any American websites, as well as any sites that are anti-Jihad and Mujahidin,” as well any Jewish, modernist or secular websites.[13] Since the Islamist movement is a global one, but resources among those wishing to pursue a role within its fold are limited, providing accessibility to members is an important tenet of electronic Jihad.

For Islamic terrorist organizations a clear benefit of cyberspace lies in its ability to readily radicalize individuals even at great distance, utilizing the internet and superior social media intelligence (SCOMINT) as a means of garnering public attention and remaining relevant internationally. The International Association of Chiefs of Police succinctly describes the process of converting individuals to the terrorist cause: “Online radicalization to violence is the process by which an individual is introduced to an ideological message and belief system that encourages movement from mainstream beliefs toward extreme views, primarily through the use of online media.”[14] This process is facilitated through the use of a variety of social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These platforms serve as useful tools in the radicalization and recruitment of members, which is particularly effective for users seeking the promise of friendship, a sense of purpose or simply acceptance from a greater collective.[15] This is confirmed by scholar and terrorism expert Max Abrahms, who argues that terrorist organizations appeal disproportionately to those people who feel socially alienated, and whose ranks are filled with members who participate in terrorist organization not for some higher political ideal, but for the opportunity to “develop strong affective ties with fellow terrorists.”[16] The extreme costs and dangers associated with the activities of terrorist groups create tight-knit bonds, and thus, even when terrorist organizations fail to accomplish their set objectives, simply committing acts of terrorism tends to lend itself to recruiting members and boosting morale.[17]

As described by James Carafano of The National Interest, “Most social networks conform to what is called the ‘power curve,’ with a few contributors dominating the preponderance of activity on the network.”[18] This gives those contributors the proverbial high ground, known online as the “broadcast mode,” which allows them to convey their message and direct conversation on the web towards it. The other high ground which exists on social networks is the “conversation mode,” which facilitates a greater level of participation among a group’s members. By utilizing both high grounds, terrorist groups can benefit from the widespread release of gruesome execution videos (facilitated by the broadcast mode of social media), while also luring individuals into small group conversations in an effort to attract new recruits or radicalize those participating in discussions (facilitated by the conversation mode). Through these two avenues or approaches to social networks terrorist groups have become quite adept at using the internet to recruit and radicalize members for homegrown terrorist operations.

In the contemporary of case of the Islamic State (IS or ISIL), the use of narrative on the internet has been particularly persuasive. In fact, according to an internal assessment conducted by the Department of State, the US government’s narrative “is being trumped by ISIL’s.” Our government’s narrative is “reactive – we think about ‘counter-narratives,’ not ‘our narrative,’” which is especially damning since that narrative espouses a strategy to “stay the course.”[19] And while much of IS’s social media presence can be attributed to a relatively small number of hyperactive users (roughly between 500 and 2,000 accounts in the case of twitter), their proficiency with technology has allowed the group to project and maintain rhetoric commensurate, if not greater than, those put forth by the international system’s largest actors.


Online Radicalization

A prominent example of online radicalization is the case of Zachary Chesser, a 25-year-old Virginian and son of a U.S. government contractor, who despite having participated in his school’s Gifted and Talented program (as well having been heavily involved in extra curricula activities), would become a homegrown violent Islamic extremist. In the summer of 2008, Chesser converted to Islam and began making significant changes to his life. By August of that year, Chesser would be forced to move out of his mother’s home because of her relationship with her live-in partner, which was a direct affront to his new-found Islamic beliefs. By late fall of 2008, Chesser began to spend more time on the internet as a means of connecting with like-minded individuals who shared his increasingly violent and extremist views. As chesser described his position: “…jihad becomes obligatory in the event that non-Muslims invade Muslim lands. This is what I found, and this is what essentially everyone finds…One who sets out to learn inevitably sees jihad as viable and preferable at some point.”[20] Ultimately Chesser became a prolific contributor to terrorist forum. He created three YouTube terrorist propaganda channels; managed two Twitter accounts; one Facebook profile; and created and authored two “stand-alone online blogs advocating violent Islamist extremism.”[21] By 2010, Chesser had become not only a faithful adherent to his extremist views, but had in fact become a strategist for the cause and quickly gained notoriety among counterterrorism experts through his participation in online discussions and debates. In one case, he allowed Aaron Y. Zelin, a researcher from Brandeis University, to interview him on topics ranging from the threats he posted to the creators of South Park, to the justification of al-Qai’da’s killing of Muslims “…stating that ‘collateral damage will naturally occur in any war.’”[22] On June 24, 2010, the FBI executed a search warrant of his residence which ultimately gave them the evidence they needed to indict Chesser. Later that day, using his son as a means to avoid suspicion, Chesser unsuccessfully attempted to flee the country, and make his way to Somalia to join al-Shabaab. Chesser would ultimately plead guilty to the charges levied against him and he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

The case of Zachary Chesser illustrates how law enforcement alone, was ill-equipped to handle and counter radicalized individuals. From 2008 until his eventual arrest in June 2010, Chesser progressed from a radicalized individual, to one who was mobilized. Despite his extremist activities, however, Chesser was protected by the First Amendment, and provided he did not engage in any criminal activity, the FBI could only inform him that they had become aware of his activities. SOCMINT allows individuals, particularly American homegrown extremists the ability to broadcast their message without breaching the statutory definitions of criminal activity. As previously described, Chesser managed to utilize both the “broadcast mode” of the internet, using his various social media accounts to lob bombastic and inflammatory claims that would draw the attention of his viewers, while simultaneously using the “conversation mode” of the internet, to engage in one-on-one discussions with followers and scholars alike, in order to bolster the assertions he made. We must remember, however, that such incidents are not limited to the United States alone.

An ethnic Albanian from Kosovo living in Frankfurt, Germany, Arid Uka was by all accounts a model youth. Indeed, in 2005 he was even the recipient of a prize from the German government for his role in “…a school project on how to prevent violence in society.”[23] Yet despite such promise, on March 2, 2011, Arid Uka at the age of 22 was arrested in connection with an attack he had conducted against an American military bus in Frankfurt, which left two American airmen dead, with another two wounded. According to testimony, as the bus was being loaded with military personnel, Arid approached the group asking for a cigarette and whether they were headed to Afghanistan. When told that they were, Uka pulled a pistol from his backpack and shot one of the unarmed soldiers in the head before turning his gun on those already on the bus. He shot at three more soldiers before his weapon jammed. Then 22-year-old Arid Uka, was subsequently convicted of two counts of murder, as well as three counts of attempted murder and seriously bodily harm.[24] As the investigation unfolded, it became increasingly clear that radicalization via the internet was probable given his affinity to post links to jihadist websites. This was later confirmed by Mr. Uka himself, who had told investigators that “…he had acted alone and that he had decided to carry out the attack after seeing a video on YouTube that apparently showed American soldiers raping a girl in Afghanistan.”[25] While the quality of this video might have given most viewers cause to pause, since the video was transparently clipped and edited, this fact had no effect on the opinion of Arid Uka, who saw the video as completely factual and overwhelming proof the culpability of Americans.

In general, as individuals immerse themselves in extremist rhetoric they arguably develop a warped sense of reality which inclines them to consider their views no longer radical. This inclination to believe that their radicalized views are in fact quite realistic is furthered by interactions which take place online with those “like-minded individuals” who can substitute as a “physical community and create an online social environment similar to that of gangs in which deviant behavior and violence are the norm.”[26] Arid Uka, like Zachary Chesser, had no links to any terrorist organization, nor had he received any formal training or ideological instruction. “His entire radicalization, from early attraction to jihadi preaching to the final deadly mission, was accomplished online,” which illustrates just how efficient and persuasive social media platforms can be when utilized as a tool for radicalization.[27]


‘Electronic Jihad’ and the Utility of Hacking

In 2012, Junaid Hussain, a teenager from Birmingham, England, went on trial for having hacked Tony Blair’s personal address book as well as taking down an anti-terror hotline.[28] He avoided incarceration, however, and within two years Junaid would be in Syria on his way to join IS. According to JM Berger, co-author of Isis: The State of Terror, “Activity targeting the west is just part of their (ISIS’) portfolio. They’re also responsible for maintaining internet access in Isis territories, for instance, and for instructing members on security.”[29] The most dramatic example of this came in January of this year, when the group managed to hack both the Twitter and YouTube accounts of US Central Military Command (CENTCOM), sending out tweets and pictures, (including photos of US military personnel at an outpost), “…suggesting Isis sympathisers had somehow infiltrated military servers and installations.”[30]

This form of digital attack, known as a denial-of-service (DoS) attack, prevents legitimate users from accessing certain information or services. This is accomplished by targeting the computer terminal(s) and network connection(s), or simply targeting the network of the sites your target is attempting to use. The most common scenario according to the Department of Homeland Security, is a DoS attack which occurs when an attacker “floods” a network with information, overloading a server so that a targeted network or computer’s requests cannot be processed.[31] So while this incident may have been embarrassing for CENTCOM, ultimately DoS attacks, such as this are in practical terms simply vandalism, temporary irritants intended to draw the public’s eye. That does not mean, however, that the danger posed by Islamic terrorist groups’ presence in cyberspace is insignificant. Besides from cyberspace’s utility as a medium for propaganda or the defacement of internet domains, it has also been used operationally.

Tactical Use of Cyberspace

Cyberspace offers potential jihadists the opportunity to receive instruction and training on topics ranging from data mining to psychological warfare.”[32] This was seen in 2001, when US forces seized several al-Qai’da computers in Afghanistan which contained the schematics for dams, as well as engineering software capable of simulating catastrophic failures.[33] This was also illustrated in the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India,[34] when the perpetrators used GPS devices to both plan and execute their attack, relying on the imagery provided by Google Earth and their mobile phones to provide “live updates from their handlers about the location of hostages, especially foreigners.”[35] Instrumental in these operations, sites like YouTube and Facebook were instrumental to these operations and allowed the attackers to learn the use of explosives while simultaneously directing the group’s followers to additional instructional material which promote the use of hacking techniques and the sharing of encryption programs. Such easy access to information has proven particularly costly to coalition forces in theaters of war, where terror groups routinely use the internet to “share designs for IEDs instantly across conflict zones form Iraq to Afghanistan,” providing training even when the presence and efforts of drones and counterterror operations deprive them of the physical space to teach and train.[36] A major facilitator of this practical training has been the rise of encryption programs for Jihadists.


Dissemination of Information

The use of encryption programs is of particularly importance to the radical Islamist movement, as it is what has allowed terrorist groups to effectively communicate in secret. One such software release was Asrar al-Mujahideen, also known as “Mujahideen Secrets”, which was popularized in the first issue of Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s quarterly online magazine Inspire.[37] The promotional material for the program stated that it represented “…the first Islamic computer program for secure exchange [of information] on the internet,” boasting five of the best encryption algorithms and data compression tools.[38] Since the program’s debut, Inspire magazine has offered a tutorial in each issue on how to properly encrypt communications, as well as providing recommendations as to the ideal encryption tool to use. The software’s latest installment, “Mujahideen Secrets 2,” was released in January of 2008, and has since been revised twice, most recently in 2012.[39] This new iteration of the software, issued by the Global Islamic Media Front and offered for free on the password-protected site, was distributed with the express intent to “‘support the mujahideen (holy war fighters) in general and the (al Qaeda-linked group) Islamic State in Iraq in particular.’”[40] This has been of particular use to those jihadists who are less tech-savvy and require instructions as to how to properly deploy mujahideen on the battlefield. This efflux of encryption software has also coincided with the rise of jihadist technical specialists, like those from the Technical Research and Study Center formed in 2009, which researches emerging trends in the fields of information, communication and electronics, as well as producing the software “Mobile Secret” for use with cell phones and PDAs.[41]



Although terrorist organizations have been rather adept at utilizing the internet to spread propaganda and provide instructions for attacks, their capability to launch offensive attacks on computer networks remain limited. Cyberattacks attributed to terrorists have largely consisted of “unsophisticated efforts such as e-mail bombings of ideological foes, denial-of-service attacks, or defacing of websites.”[42] Even when such attacks have been successful, the damage inflicted has been limited, largely because government entities the world over are actively involved in monitoring and surveilling websites, conducting analyses to determine potential terrorist plots, and if need be, rendering said domains inaccessible to the public.

There is still, however, some reason for concern. In the case of the US government, its strategic communications and information operations are still hindered by the US Information and Education Exchange Act of 1948 (22 U.S.C. § 1461) which dictates the information about the United States, particularly “…its policies intended for foreign audiences, ‘shall not be disseminated within the United States, its territories, or possessions.’” [43] This creates a wall between domestic and foreign audiences by limiting the information which the United States makes available to counter extremists in cyberspace, for fear of potential blow-back on American citizens. This limits the ability of the US government, which is arguably the principal target for Islamic terrorist organizations today, to adequately respond to extremism in cyberspace by mounting its own information and propaganda campaigns. While some might argue that legal restrictions on information dissemination in the US are a necessary protection which prevents the government from infringing on its citizens, the fact remains that the US government has its hands tied when it comes to dismantling extremist narratives and countering them with an alternative narrative.

It can be argued that the hypothesis put forth by this paper-that the exploitation of cyberspace is the latest force multiplier- is unproven, at least to the extent that terrorist cyberattacks have caused mass casualties. While it is in theory possible for terrorist groups to possess both the intent and the skill-sets required to cause such casualties, the current actions of terrorist organizations in cyberspace represent “non-violent responses to political situations, rather than actions aimed at reaping notoriety in flesh and blood.”[44] This is due in no small part to the “vigilance and operational sophistication” of security agencies which have worked to ensure that critical infrastructures remain unbreached and secure.[45] Still, as is argued by Tim Stevens, an Associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London, “It would be foolish, however, to dismiss the threat of cyberterrorism…As it becomes harder to understand the complexities of network traffic, identify attack vectors, attribute responsibility and react accordingly.”[46] In anticipation of such developments governments will inevitably have to devote significant effort to creating integrated strategies, both domestically and internationally, which criminalize offensive attacks deemed cyberterrorism.


Conclusion and Future Prospects

Cyberspace allows Islamic terrorist organizations to efficiently project their ideology far and wide. It has facilitated the radicalization and recruitment of individuals like Zachary Chesser and Arid Uka, individuals who might not have been influenced had social media platforms not been utilized. It also granted such terrorist groups the ability through the internet to provide the necessary training and technical know-how to communicate confidentially and to plan, stage and execute operations in the field. As the cyber expertise of these terrorist groups increases, so too will their ability to effectively capitalize on their strengths. Governments and individuals alike must be cognizant of the fact that terrorist organizations can now be integrated more closely with other sub-state entities, and are therefore capable of effective organizational decentralization, thereby reducing the potential for disruption caused by the loss of key figures in the organization’s hierarchy.

Due to the worldwide surge in internet access and use, it is increasingly difficult to attract attention to any particular websites. In order to effectively utilize cyberspace to recruit new followers and convey technical information, Islamic terrorist organizations must stay abreast of the latest internet innovations. If they do not adapt to the changes in technology, the force multiplier effect of cyberspace and the efficacy of ‘electronic jihad’ will be greatly diminished. While the physical projection of force in the real world as a propaganda device can be unsettling, the cyber projection of force over the internet is viewed in an entirely different light. International jihadist groups can utilize cyberspace to plan, stage and execute attacks without the risk of retaliation or countermeasures that would immediately be elicited by such activities in the real world. the use of cyberspace  may soon entirely eliminate the need for physical training camps and facilitate the ability of terrorist organizations to run semi-autonomous cells, capable of operating all over the world.  Unless governments find the means to counter effectively the cyber activities of jihadist groups and, indeed, if possible, degrade their cyber capabilities, the force multiplier effect of cyber utilization will loom as an even greater problem for western governments in the future.


Abrahms, Max. “What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy.” International Security. Vol. 32, No. 4 (Spring 2008).

Ahmad al-Salim, Muhammad bin. “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad.” 2003. Accessed July 6, 2015.

Alterman, Jon B. “Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environments.” The Middle East Journal. Vol. 58, No. 2 (Spring 2004).

Carafano, James Jay.“Twitter Kills: How Online Networks Became a National-Security Threat.” The National Interest. June 8, 2015. Accessed July 20, 2015.

Graham-Harrison, Emma. “Could Isis’s ‘cyber caliphate’ unleash a deadly attack on key targets?” The Guardian. April 12, 2015. Accessed July 14, 2015.

Krasavin, Serge. “What is Cyber-Terrorism?” Computer Crime Research Center. 2001-2002. Accessed July 1, 2015.

Limnell, Jarno, and Hanska, Jan. “The Driving Forces in Cyberspace are Changing the Reality of Security.” Stonesoft Corporation. Accessed July 28, 2015,

Mantel, Barbara. “Terrorism and the Internet.” CQ Researcher. November 2009. Accessed July 21, 2015.

McHugh, David. “Arid Uka, Frankfurt Airport Shooter, Sentenced To Life.” The Huffington Post. February 10, 2012. Accessed July 21, 2015.

Mekhennet, Souad. “Frankfurt Attack Mystifies Suspect’s Family.” The New York Times. March 8, 2011. Accessed July 14, 2015.

Nye, Jr., Joseph S. “Cyber Power.” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. May 2010.

Schmitt, Eric, and Schmidt, Michael S. “Qaeda Plot Leak Has Undermined U.S. Intelligence.” The New York Times. September 29, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2015.

Sedarat, Firouz. “Jihadi software promises secure Web contacts.” Reuters. January 18, 2008. Accessed July 15, 2015.

Singer, Peter W. “The Cyber Terror Bogeyman.” Brookings Institute. November 2012. Accessed July 29, 2015.

Stengel, Richard. United States Department of State. June 9, 2015. Accessed July 6, 2015.

Theohary, Catherin A., and Rollins, John. “Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace.” Congressional Research Service. March 8, 2011. Accessed July 18, 2014.

Thompson, Robin L. “Radicalization and the Use of Social Media.” Journal of Strategic Security. Vol. 4, No. 4, (The Berkley Electronic Press, Winter 2011).

Weimann, Gabriel. “New Terrorism and New Media.” Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Research Series. Vol. 2, 2014. Accessed July 14, 2015.

“Al-Qaida’s Use of Encryption.” The Investigative Project On Terrorism. July 12, 2011. Accessed July 17, 2015,

“Awareness Brief: Online Radicalization to Violent Extremism.” International Association of Chiefs of Police. 2014. Accessed July 6, 2015.

“Joint Publication 3-05.1.” Joint Special Operations Task Force Operations. April 26, 2007.

“Security Tip (ST04-015: Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks.” United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. February 6, 2013. Accessed July 15, 2015.

“Examining the Cyber Capabilities of Islamic Terrorist Groups.” Technical Analysis Group, Institute for Security Technology Studies. March 2004. Accessed July 1, 2015.

“Zachary Chesser: A Case Study in Online Islamist Radicalization and Its Meaning for the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism.” Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. February 2012. Accessed July 20, 2015.


[1] Drs. Jarno Limnell and Jan Hanska, “The Driving Forces in Cyberspace are Changing the Reality of Security,” Stonesoft Corporation, accessed July 28, 2015,, 1.

[2] “Joint Publication 3-05.1,” Joint Special Operations Task Force Operations, April 26, 2007, Glossary page 11.

[3] Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Cyber Power,” Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School,, 2.

[4] Serge Krasavin, “What is Cyber-Terrorism?” Computer Crime Research Center, 2001-2002, accessed July 1, 2015,

[5] Drs. Limnell and Hanska, “The Driving Forces in Cyberspace,” 10.

[6] Nye, Jr., “Cyber Power,” 5.

[7] “Examining the Cyber Capabilities of Islamic Terrorist Groups,” Technical Analysis Group, Institute for Security Technology Studies, March 2004, accessed July 1, 2015,

[8] “Examining Cyber Capabilities.”

[9] Ibid.

[10] Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Salim, “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad,” 2003, accessed July 6, 2015,

[11] Jon B. Alterman, “Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environments,” The Middle East Journal, Vol. 58, No. 2 (Spring 2004), 323.

[12] Alterman, “Islam in the Digital Age,” 323.

[13] Ahmad al-Salim, “39 Ways to Serve.”

[14] “Awareness Brief: Online Radicalization to Violent Extremism,” International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2014, accessed July 6, 2015,, 1.

[15] Robin L. Thompson, “Radicalization and the Use of Social Media,” Journal of Strategic Security, Vol. 4, No. 4, (The Berkley Electronic Press, Winter 2011),, 171.

[16] Max Abrahms, “What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy,” International Security, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Spring 2008), 96.

[17] Abrahms, “What Terrorists Really Want,” 100.

[18] James Jay Carafano, “Twitter Kills: How Online Networks Became a National-Security Threat,” The National Interest, June 8, 2015, accessed July 20, 2015,

[19] Richard Stengel, United States Department of State, June 9, 2015, accessed July 6, 2015,

[20] “Zachary Chesser: A Case Study in Online Islamist Radicalization and Its Meaning for the Threat of Homegrown Terrorism,” Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, February 2012, accessed July 20, 2015,, 7.

[21] “Zachary Chesser: A Case Study,” 8.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Souad Mekhennet, “Frankfurt Attack Mystifies Suspect’s Family,” The New York Times, March 8, 2011, accessed July 14, 2015,

[24] David McHugh, “Arid Uka, Frankfurt Airport Shooter, Sentenced To Life,” The Huffington Post, February 10, 2012, accessed July 21, 2015,

[25] Mekhennet, “Frankfurt Attack Mystifies Suspect’s Family.”

[26] “Awareness Brief,” 1.

[27] Gabriel Weimann, “New Terrorism and New Media,” Commons Lab of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Research Series, Vol. 2, 2014, accessed July 14, 2015,, 1.

[28] Emma Graham-Harrison, “Could Isis’s ‘cyber caliphate’ unleash a deadly attack on key targets?” The Guardian, April 12, 2015, accessed July 14, 2015,

[29] Graham-Harrison, “Isis’s ‘cyber caliphate’.”


[31] “Security Tip (ST04-015: Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks,” United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, February 6, 2013, accessed July 15, 2015,

[32] Weimann, “New Terrorism and New Media,” 6.

[33] Peter W. Singer, “The Cyber Terror Bogeyman,” Brookings Institute, November 2012, accessed July 29, 2015,

[34] Interesting side note: According to security expert Marc Goodman, mobile fraud helped finance the 2008 Mumbai attacks, providing roughly $2 million via a hacking group based out of the Philippines, which was routed through the Gulf.

[35] Weimann, “New Terrorism and New Media,”

[36] Singer, “The Cyber Terror Bogeyman.”

[37] Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt, “Qaeda Plot Leak Has Undermined U.S. Intelligence,” The New York Times, September 29, 2013, accessed July 15, 2015,

[38] “Al-Qaida’s Use of Encryption,” The Investigative Project On Terrorism, July 12, 2011, accessed July 17, 2015,

[39] Schmitt and Schmidt, “Qaeda Plot Leak.”

[40] Firouz Sedarat, “Jihadi software promises secure Web contacts,” Reuters, January 18, 2008, accessed July 15, 2015,

[41] “Al-Qaida’s Use of Encryption.”

[42] Catherine A. Theohary and John Rollins, “Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace,” Congressional Research Service, March 8, 2011, accessed July 18, 2014,, 5.

[43] Theohary and Rollins, “Terrorist Use of the Internet,” 12.

[44] Barbara Mantel, “Terrorism and the Internet,” CQ Researcher, November 2009, accessed July 21, 2015,, 147.

[45] Mantel, “Terrorism and the Internet,” 147.

[46] Ibid.

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