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Propaganda: Use of Communication Networks in Internal Security

Propaganda: Use of Communication networks in Internal Security

  • 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.
  • The promotion of violence is a common theme in terrorism-related propaganda. The broad reach of content distributed via the Internet exponentially increases the audience that may be affected.
  • Further, the ability to directly distribute content via the Internet diminishes the reliance on traditional channels of communication, such as news services, which may take steps to independently evaluate the credibility of the information provided or to edit or omit aspects deemed to be unduly provocative.
  • Internet propaganda may also include content such as video footage of violent acts of terrorism or video games developed by terrorist organizations that simulate acts of terrorism and encourage the user to engage in role-play, by acting the part of a virtual terrorist.                        Propaganda: Use of Communication Networks in Internal Security
  • The promotion of extremist rhetoric encouraging violent acts is also a common trend across the growing range of Internet-based platforms that host user-generated content.
  • Content that might formerly have been distributed to a relatively limited audience, in person or via physical media such as compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs), has increasingly migrated to the Internet.
  • Such content may be distributed using a broad range of tools, such as dedicated websites, targeted virtual chat rooms and forums, online magazines, social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and popular video and file-sharing websites, such as YouTube and Rapidshare, respectively. The use of indexing services such as Internet search engines also makes it easier to identify and retrieve terrorism-related content.                            Propaganda: Use of Communication Networks in Internal Security

The fundamental threat posed by terrorist propaganda relates to the manner in which it is used and the intent with which it is disseminated.

Terrorist propaganda distributed via the Internet covers a range of objectives and audiences, which are:-

  • It may be tailored, inter alia, to potential or actual supporters or opponents of an organization or shared extremist belief, to direct or indirect victims of acts of terrorism or to the international community or a subset thereof.
  • Propaganda aimed at potential or actual supporters may be focused on recruitment, radicalization and incitement to terrorism, through messages conveying pride, accomplishment and dedication to an extremist goal.                                      Propaganda: Use of Communication Networks in Internal Security
  • It may also be used to demonstrate the effective execution of terrorist attacks to those who have provided financial support.
  • Use of psychological manipulation to undermine an individual’s belief in certain collective social values, or to propagate a sense of heightened anxiety, fear or panic in a population or subset of the population. This may be achieved through the dissemination of disinformation, rumours, threats of violence or images relating to provocative acts of violence.
  • The intended audience may include direct viewers of content, as well as those affected by potential publicity generated by such material.
  • With respect to the wider international community, the goal is often to convey a desire to achieve noble political ends.


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