The Terrorists' Audience: A Model of Internet Radicalisation
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This paper explores the challenges of internet radicalisation to counter terrorism and security. In a post 9/11 world where technology is fast becoming integrated into the everyday realities of our lives, the internet has surfaced as an important and critical tool in the extremists’ repertoire. For those individuals and groups who seek to spread the message of violent Islamism and indoctrinate the vulnerable to violent action, the internet presents as a one stop shop where they can identify, inform, influence and indoctrinate. The ubiquity of the internet and its uniqueness as a media platform where users can consume, participate and create content makes it particularly attractive to both terrorists and those vulnerable to extremism. This paper takes a different approach to combating internet radicalisation and posits a model for understanding the appeal and functionality of the internet to users: the terrorists’ audience. The model presented here applies uses and gratifications theory to explain the nexus between user needs and extremist content. Understanding what motivates people to turn to the internet for inspiration and guidance and in turn how extremist content on the internet might fulfil their needs can assist in the development of counter terrorism and security measures to tackle the growing challenge of internet radicalisation.
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