Terrorism and the Internet Essay

Terrorism and the Internet Essay
Terrorism is a “complicated, electic phenomenon”(Cronin, 2002), which can be defined as “the threat or use of seemingly random violence against innocents for political ends by a nonstate actor” (Cronin, 2002). Following the 9/11, George W. Bush stated: “Americans have known the casualties of war, but not at the centre of a great city on a peaceful morning. Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians. All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world» (Bush, 2001) The unique character of trauma of this attack forced the world to consider the fact that terrorism at the dawn of the twenty first century had changed, more dangerous than it had ever been in two thousand years. This leads us to the following question: what differentiates Terrorism, as we knew it in the Twentieth century, from Terrorism in the Twenty-first century?

This essay will argue that it is the major Revolutions of the 21st century, in the world of Telecommunications, the Internet and the Medias; Armament and Science that are at the source of all the major changes in twentieth century's Terrorism.

Firstly, I will explain how the Internet revolution as part of the revolution of Telecommunications brought about great change in the structure of Terrorism in the 21stcentury. The fact of the matter is that the Revolution of the Internet and other mobile telecommunications allowed the creation of a new “networked structure” (Tucker, 2002). This change indirectly led to a new “distribution of power”(Viotti, 2009) which gradually enabled independent individuals around the globe to interact with terrorist organizations and adhere to them on the basis of “nothing more than a common purpose” (Tucker, 2002) the national scale of terrorism in the 20th century became an international one. Moreover, it is worth mentioning the fact that terrorists organization such as the “Israel's Kahane Chai, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Kurdistan Worker's Party, and Peru's Shining Path » (Cronin, 2002) own a website, whether there be official or not. Those Websites are far-reaching, somehow discrete, accessible by everyone and inexpensive, there are very effective in spreading ideologies and recruitment. Terrorist groups in the 21st century have the means to be much more efficient and organized than those in the 20th century. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the creation of those websites is made possible by a mere Internet connection. This implies that anyone who wishes to form a terrorist movement can do so through the Internet, without private funding. Being a terrorist in the 21st century is easier than it has ever been. In addition to that, and as opposed to the 20th century, today's terrorist movements do not have a hierarchical structure. This means that they cannot be “beheaded” nor targeted as easily as before. In fact, this “expansion of the global reach” (Viotti, 2009) originated in a critical “shift in the geography of terrorism” (Brown, 2003). Not only is the revolution of the Internet at the source of the phenomenon, it is also strengthening it. Indeed, only by the way of telecommunications is the organization and efficiency of such geographically spread groups rendered possible. Also, the Internet is a new arm in the hand of terrorists. The 21st century saw the emergence of a new threat, commonly called “Cyber terrorism”. In my views, there can be no doubt that this threat is an ever growing one. Even though for the present, terrorists have a preference for bombs as opposed to bytes, we should bear in mind that the next generation, growing up among those technologies, know them and will probably be the ones to use them. Cyber-terrorism, whether it is implanting a simple virus in a government's branch or dismantling the whole banking system of a country, would be devastating. The rising complexity of the Internet makes its control difficult. If it was to happen that a terrorist breaks into a governmental system and destroys it data, it would destroy in one shot the whole western economy and society. The destruction of a model is a great risk, one that did not previously exist. “We children go to sleep, and our toys stay up and play”(Brown, 2003), the information technologies are evolving fast, and it might be impossible for us to grasp the full extent of their dangers, especially in the hands of terrorists

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