Polish Political Science Yearbook vol. 46 (2) (2017), pp. 105–117
DOI: 10.15804/ppsy2017207 PL ISSN 0208-7375
Karolina Wojtasik
University of Silesia (Poland)
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations
Use the Internet?
Abstract: The article gives general characterisation of the ways in which these
organizations use modern communication technologies. Currently, every major
terrorist organisation maintain robust media wings, which focus on producing
videos, publishing magazines and sharing them with the public via the Web. The
empirical system of reference is based on the activity of al-Qaeda, her franchise
AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and ISIS (the so-called Islamic State).
While analysing the media of terrorist organisations, the Lasswell model was applied.
This formula is a standard research procedure used for investigating acts of
communication by answering the questions: who, says what, in which channel,
to whom, with what effect?. The author also present typology of videos produced
by jihadist organisations, characterised the most important and active media actions
of terrorist organisations and a typology of recipients of such messages.
The article presents a number of reasons why the Internet has become such an
important tool for terrorists
Keywords: ISIS; al-Qaeda; AQAP; terrorist propaganda; terrorist media, Cyber Terrorism
The effectiveness of terrorist activity depends on its scale. More spectacular and severe
actions have a better chance to realise the political and strategic goals of terrorist
groups. It should be underlined that terrorists have always been dependent on the
media which showed, quoted and, so to speak, mediated in spreading fear. However,
for years terrorist organisations did not have any impact on the content and quality
of the broadcasted communiqués. Currently, terrorist groups have their own media
106 Karolina Wojtasik
wings, periodicals, editors and camera operators. The Internet and modern technology
has allowed terrorist groups to disseminate content which they can fully control.
VHS cassettes containing instructions on bomb assembly, recruitment propaganda
or recordings of leader speeches were already used for propaganda and instructional
purposes during the Soviet–Afghan War (1979 – 1989), long before the emergence
of the so-called Islamic State. However, these materials were prepared in Arabic or
languages used in Afghanistan (e.g. Pashto, Dari), thus were available only to a limited
group of people. Also, due to the lack of distribution possibilities provided by the
Internet, these publications were received only by the people directly involved in
combat. Nowadays, terrorist organisations reach fighters from the West who have
undergone radicalisation (children of Muslim immigrants or people with European
passports who converted to Islam), been inspired by the so-called lone wolves and
radicalise people who often do not know Arabic – thus there is a need to prepare
materials in English. Numerous publications available online promote radicalisation,
show methods of operation, provide practical guidelines and inspire action. Films
produced by terrorist organisations play a similar function. Radical online leaders
have become as dangerous as the mujahideen).
The aim of this article is to characterise some aspects of the use of the Internet in
the activities of terrorist organisations and to attempt to analyse this phenomenon. The
authors focus on creation and distribution of the publications of terrorist organisations
and present how these materials spread fear and introduce an atmosphere of anxiety.
A number of threads related to the presence of terrorists in the media and medial
image of terrorism was omitted because these topics are raised in publications from
the fields of security, media and social communication (Białek, 2005; Goban-Klas,
2009; Liedel, 2006) , whereas the media of terrorist organisations aren’t popular area
of research.
An in-depth study analysed various materials – publications of terrorist organisations
(magazines, films, music, posters, books) officially made available by organisations
such as al-Qaeda, AQAP1 (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and ISIS (the so-called
1 Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – Islamist militant organization, which is active
in Yemen and Saudi Arabia (but also inspires and gives guidance how to prepare a terrorist attack
to volunteers all over the world), considered the most active and dangerous of al-Qaeda’s branches.
AQAP is responsible for numerous attacks and acts of terror in Jemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as
for the attack on the offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January 2015.
Islamic State (IS) – Salafi jihadist militant group, which proclaimed unrecognized quasi-state
on the occupied territories in Iraq and Syria. Organization or organization’s followers execute
terrorist attacks all over the world (also in EU and USA). Various governments and Muslim groups
rejecting its statehood that’s why abbreviation ISIS/ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Sham)/
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 107
Islamic State). The above organisations were selected due to their high media activity
and professionalism in production. The aim of the study is a general characterisation
of ways in which these organisations use modern communication technologies.
The theoretical system of reference is based on social communication theories
and terminology related to communication science. The official media of terrorist
organisations are part of the mass media – means of mass communication which are
public communication channels characterised by having an institutional communicator,
collective transmission multiplexed by technical means and heterogeneous, and an
unstructured community of anonymous recipients (Pisarek, 2008, p. 121). However,
it should be noted that these media types are specific – the messages are produced by
terrorist organisations and are strongly marked by ideology and the propaganda of
the organisation. While analysing the media of terrorist organisations, a formula of
research procedure was applied used for investigating acts of communication called the
Lasswell model. It was chosen particularly because it includes the effects of an act of
communication (Pisarek, 2008, p. 109 – 110) which is very important from the point
of view of the subject matter in question. The Lasswell’s model of communication was
developed by American communication theorist and introduced in 1948 in article The
Structure and Function of Communication in Society. It is regarded one of the earliest
conceptual models used to explain human communication processes. According to
Harold D. Lasswell the best way to describe the act of communication is to answer
the following questions: who? says what? in which channel? to whom? with what
effect? In this model, the communication component who refers communicator, says
what refers to the type of message, in which channel refers to the medium, to whom
refers to audience and with what effect refers to effect of an act of communication.
This model has a lot of advantages: it is simple and easy, it suits for almost all types
of communication and takes into consideration the concept of effect, but also is
criticized: it’s linear model, it doesn’t mention feedback and noise.
Who is Talking?
Terrorist organisations are not random, chaotic groups of unstable sociopaths. Such
a stereotypical image, which is still prevelant in public opinion, is untrue and detrimental
from the point of view of preventive action. Terrorist groups usually have
Levant) is commonly used as it was the official name of the organization between 2013 – 2014.
There is also used an acronym DAESH created from the Arabic name of the organization. The
organization pledge allegiance to AQ and participated in its fight with Western forces in Iraq War
(2003 – 2011) but in 2013 broke alliance and started fight down AQ.
108 Karolina Wojtasik
a strategy of action, a goal and tactics adjusted to it – leaders of such groups calculate
costs and benefits, assess the risk and their decisions are often rational, well thought out
and fully informed (Bolechów, 2010, p. 23 – 46). A contemporary terrorist organisation
has to function as a well-managed company. It needs efficient system of command,
organisation of activities, a system of recruitment and training new members. It also
requires a spokesman, skilful specialists in the media, public relations, information
and propaganda. Also a well-organised logistics network as well as financing and
communication systems are necessary for such organisations to function efficiently,
especially when operating from the underground (Jaworski, 2006, p. 52 – 57).
According to the report Evolution of Jihadi Video (Intel Center, 2005), Palestinians
and Chechens were the first ones to film military actions and partisan fighting.
The leader of Chechen troops, Ibn al-Khattab (Thamir Saleh Abdullah) quickly
realised that although successful attacks on Russian outposts weaken the enemy, they
bring relatively small results. Due to an information blockade the Russian public
did not know that Russian soldiers suffered defeat and that the government did not
control the situation. Filming military activities also had another, equally important
purpose – raising the morale of other fighters. Video recordings presenting successful
missions and victories inspired and motivated militants to fight in very difficult and
unfavourable conditions. Thus groups under the command of Ibn al-Khattab recorded
everyday aspect of the unit: skirmishes with Russian soldiers, well-organised ambushes
and war councils.
In 2000, the group released a 40-minute film entitled Russian Hell No. 1. The aim
of this recording was to show that Chechen militants were successful, well trained
and ruthless towards captured enemies. The film is an amateur production shot by
random people who did not receive training on video-recording and probably had only
a simple VHS camera. A cameraman, whose hands constantly shook and who did not
have the frame under full control, poorly administered the zoom in/out feature. The
film consists of several fragments and presents partisan combat, successful ambushes
against Russian soldiers, destroying their equipment as well as killing and finishing
off captives. The sound is of poor quality, thus instead of sounds of combat viewers
can hear pieces of vocal music, the so-called nasheed, melodic, wistful songs about
the beauty of combat and dying in the name of God (Allah), sung a cappella.
The idea was quickly copied by al-Qaeda2 who a couple months later produced
a 2-hour film entitled The Destruction of the Destroyer USS Cole. It soon became the
ambition of every major terrorist group to document their achievements. Due to the
development of the Internet and technological advancement filming and making acts
2 Shortly before the 9/11 attack.
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 109
of terror public has never been so easy and cheap. In 2002 a journalist, Daniel Pearl,
was killed in Pakistan by terrorists, who forced him to give a statement in which
he condemn USA foreign policy. The statement and moment of death were filmed
and initiated the barbarian way of dealing with hostages. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi,
the founder of jihadi organization, which later transformed itself into ISIS, used the
strategy of shocking by cruelty. In May 2004, a masked man (probably Zarqawi)
slashed the head of Nick Berg, an American citizen. The decapitation was filmed. The
organization has carried out about ten similar executions. Making movies showing
cruelty has become a steady terrorists’ strategy. This trend has continued for several
years, although a lot has changed since the first cassettes with speeches delivered by the
then leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, or the film recorded in 2004 presenting
a masked man3 decapitating Nicholas (Nick) Berg were brought out into the open.
Amateur productions shot with a shaky hand, in random places, full of blurred shots
and weak sound have been replaced by films refined in every detail, shot in outdoor
locations, professionally edited video and audio, directed according to a script. Al-
Furqan Media, which produce films for ISIS, specialises in such productions.
The empirical system of reference of this article is the activity of ISIS and AQAP,
although these are not the only organisations which use media and the so-called new
media. An interesting example is the media wing of Lebanese Hezbollah, TV station
and portal al-Manar (the Beacon), which for years has propagated controversial views
and promoted behaviours threatening national security (calls for attacking Israel and
the USA, encouraging suicide attacks). Although the station also shows news from
other spheres of life, the actions of the Party of God are always presented in a positive
way. The portal offers a lot of downloadable material and mobile apps, also in English
and French. As demonstrated by the example above, the Internet is currently the most
popular ground used by terrorist organisations for publishing, communicating and
exchanging information.
Currently, teams of specialists from groups such as al-Hayat Media Center (associated
with ISIS), al-Malahem Media (associated with AQAP), as-Sahab and al-
Fajr Media Center (media wing of al-Qaeda) and al-Furqan Instytute (ISIS) prepare
professionally informative and propaganda-like campaigns, produce documentaries,
online magazines and directed executions4. They prepare various materials and publications.
3 Most likely it was Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
4 All magazines and videos discussed in the article are in the author’s archive.
110 Karolina Wojtasik
What is Being Said?
A special term has been coined for the film productions created by fundamentalist
terrorist group – jihadi video production. In 2005, a typology of these types of films
was created (Intel Center, 2005, p. 6 – 7):
They include the following:
1. videos presenting an organisation, its goal and leaders (produced videos),
2. videos showing the operation of an organisation – skirmishes, attacks, fighting,
but also integration with civilian population, helping and supporting them
(operational videos),
3. videos showing hostages (hostage videos) – as confirmation of kidnapping,
informing viewers about the demands of a group or presenting an execution
of hostages,
4. videos showing statements (statement videos) related to alliances, changes in
the leadership, plans of an organisation, claiming responsibility for an attack,
declarations of committing more acts of terror,
5. videos which commemorate a dead, important leader/member of an organisation
(tribute videos),
6. videos showing elements of militant training (internal training videos); produced
either for an organisation’s own use or for promotional purposes,
7. videos with instructions/tips (instructional videos) which mainly present ways
of making improvised explosives5 or instructing how to handle a firearm
(dismantling, and cleaning a weapon, shooting positions).
Productions of terrorist organisations’ meia outlets are not only presented as videos.
Current online publications also include magazines, books, manuals, films and music.
A considerable part of these publications contain instructional and propaganda-like
materials for future fighters. Terrorist organisations extend the scale of operation
and recruit fighters from outside of the area of conflict, frequently from the broadly
understood West, also those who do not speak Middle Eastern languages. Thus more
and more materials on the Web are published in English (mainly), French, German
and Russian. These publications are prepared extra professionally because terrorist
groups, especially those with substantial funds, have teams of media specialists at their
disposal, often even separate divisions responsible for media communication.
The first issue of magazine entitled Inspire was published by AQAP in 2010.
Although it was not the first English-language jihadi magazine (Hegghammer,
5 IED – Improvised Explosive Device – a homemade explosive device intended to be used
in a terrorist attack or a diversion.
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 111
2010), its high quality, easy access and publicity accompanying every issue made it
regarded first well-known, easily accessible magazine published by terrorist. Between
2010 – 2016, 16 issues of the periodical have been published. AQAP, famous for very
well-functioning media base, published also Ṣadā al-Malāḥim (Echo of the Epics)
magazine and frequently uploads manifests and short videos on the Web. Inspire is
an instructional and propaganda magazine which features interviews with terrorist
group leaders, commanders, Muslim clerics, and contains stories of mujahids from
various parts of the world, also Europe, it documents the organisation’s achievements,
describes in detail acts of terror committed by the organisation, and presents reportages
from training camps. However, it mainly provides professional instructions on how
to make various kinds of explosives and other ways of killing a civilian population in
large numbers. The authors of the texts explicitly call for committing acts of terror
on the territories of EU and the USA.
The purpose of Inspire has been delineated in the first issue – to turn a Muslim
into a mujahid fighter6. The authors, aware that there are millions of Muslims all over
the World whose mother tongue (or official language of their country of residence) is
English, prepared grounds for exchanging information, a place people will address the
issues related to ummah7 and jihad8 which is an indispensable asset into the rebirth
of the Caliphate (Inspire, 2010, p. 2). The above assurances does not differ from
declarations included in publications promoting Islam. However, on one of the pages
of the fifth issue of the magazine information about the failed terrorist attack from
2009 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who boarded an American plane carrying an
improvised explosive device which ultimately did not explode. The would-be suicide
bomber was described as a hero and his action was praised. The authors asked the
readers to pray for this brave fighter and encouraged all Muslims who take issue
with the presence of the Crusaders (citizens of the broadly understood West) in the
Arabian Peninsula to attack embassies. Soldiers working for Western armies or “puppet
governments” in the Middle East are encouraged to commit acts of terror just like
Nidal Hasan did, using all available means, in the name and for the glory of Allah
(the one and only God) so that Islam would dominate the world (Inspire, 2010, p. 5).
6 Mujahid – someone who struggles for the sake of Islam, person engaged in jihad. Currently
this term is used when referring to religiously-inspired Muslim fighters who participate in guerilla
fights or fight against governments which they do not accept.
7 Ummah – the community of believers, all people following Islam.
8 Jihad – a term referring to all efforts made towards spreading and strengthening Islam:
mainly through internal struggle and spiritual development of the follower or converting infidels.
Radical terrorist groups define jihad as an armed struggle against infidels. In the media this term
is frequently but not accurately translated as „holy war”.
112 Karolina Wojtasik
The article includes threats against Americans who support governments responsible
for the deaths of Muslims. The anonymous author claims that an army of people
who do not care about their own lives will soon come to murder, spread fear and it
will be impossible to stop them (Inspire, 2010, p. 5). The above issue also features an
interview with the then leader of AQAP, articles about outlooks on life, a selection of
news from the world, sections related to caricatures of Muhammad and an appeal of
bloody revenge for those insults. Due to these types of articles Inspire does not only
promote Islam, but armed jihad as well. It is a source of information and inspiration
for potential lone wolves who can familiarize themselves with the methods of killing
civilian population in the section entitled Open Source Jihad, which gives direct
instructions how to prepare terrorist attack
Equally glaring but not as a frequently discussed example is the so-called Cosmopolitan
for female jihadists. Al-Shamikha magazine was issued by the media group al-Fajr
Media Center associated with al-Qaeda. The only available issue of this magazine (in
Arabic) appeared online and in print in 2011. A version in English has never been
published, although AQAP issued in that time, for example, the Inspire magazine in
At first glance, Al-Shamikha looks like any other women’s magazine or, to be more
precise, a periodical addressed to stereotypical readers of women’s press. The magazine
is designed with a pastel colour scheme, the texts are ornamented with decorative
margins, fonts and many illustrations. The pink colour does not match the barrel of
a sub-machine gun on the cover and the title Meeting with a mujahid’s wife. Moreover,
in the table of contents (Al-Shamikha, 2011, p. 2) we can also find a position of the
following type: Marrying a jihadist, Sharia law that applies to you, A female martyr
and a supplement Your house is your kingdom with an advice section. Modern in
form and conservative in content, the periodical is not so much a guide addressed
to female readers as a certain kind of manifestation of the views of the organisation
which publishes it. Interviews, essays, pieces of advice included in – as stated in the
subtitle of the magazine – a magazine for Islamic female jihadists, clearly show the
kind of role a woman in a militant state should play. The cover story, Meeting with
a mujahid’s wife, is a long and moving interview with a widow of a fighter who died
in battle. The heroine of the interview in a diffused and emotional manner tells about
a dream which possesses her life. Umm Muhanad, as this is the name under which
the widow appears, emphasises from the moment when she learned that mujahideen
fight in Chechnya and Bosnia that she wanted to become a wife of one of them (Al-
Shamikha, 2011, p. 9 – 12). She speaks with great detail about the joy of being a life
companion to a fighter and about the importance of her role. She expresses the hope
that her children will share the fate of their father while she will support them in their
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 113
steps to becoming mujahideen and then shahids. When asked whether a woman is
an obstacle to a fighter or helps in fulfilling his mission, she answers that a wife who
is supportive and who shares her husband’s point of view is very important for a true
mujahid. The interview ends with a message to other women who also have lost their
husbands – mujahideen that they should remember that a great blessing has befallen
upon them.
It is uncertain whether the heroine of the interview exists or not, she is probably
some form of a model character. This is how the authors of the publication would like
to see women in the society under their rule. The topic of the advantages of marrying
a mujahid also appears in the article Marrying a jihadist. Such relationships, says
the author (female author?), is not only about life, but a joy which leads straight to
Paradise. Marriage with a fighter, concluded with the blessing of Allah, is a pleasure
of giving and a delight of obedience (Al-Shamikha, 2011, p. 18). Life of a model
dignified or majestic woman, as this is how the Arabic title of the magazine can be
translated, is not only limited to lofty glorious matters. In the section entitled Your
house is your kingdom the readers can find a number of tips related to lifestyle and of
carrying one’s appearance. The authors write that 90% of a woman’s beauty is her
skin, warning against the harmful influence of the sun which damages it irreversibly
(Al-Shamikha, 2011, p. 23 – 30) and concludes: out of concern for your beauty it
is best to stay at home. The following page includes a recipe for a honey mask and
a promise that the next issue will feature a recipe for a peel-off mask – in sha Allah.
However, the second issue was never released.
In Which Channel?
Informational and propaganda materials are mainly published online and, due to
social networking sites, spread quickly duplicated in millions of copies. Terrorist
organisations have official social network accounts on Facebook or Twitter, publish
propaganda and informational content, respond to questions on portals like ask.fm.
However, their strength does not lie in their official accounts but in the hundreds of
thousands of profiles of their supporters and sympathisers who exchange information,
publish visual materials, establish friendships with potential recruits, and communicate
with each other. They frequently use encrypted apps and apply the Internet to the
purposes of their organisations in a very professional manner. An eminent journalist
and a Middle East expert summarises the strength of ISIS media with the following
words: “Half of Jihad is Media” is one slogan posted on a jihadist website, which,
taken broadly, is wholly correct. The ideas, actions, and aims of fundamentalist Sunni
jihadists are broadcast daily through satellite television stations, YouTube, Twitter, and
114 Karolina Wojtasik
Facebook. As long as such powerful means of propagandizing exist, groups similar
to al-Qaeda will never go short of money or recruits (Cockburn, 2014, p. 168).
To Whom?
There is no propaganda message addressed to everyone. Similarly, the media messages
created by ISIS and other terrorist organisations differ depending on the target group.
Several target groups can be distinguished:
1. potential fighters; videos produced for them show fighting, brotherhood of
arms, modern equipment and man’s adventure. They are told about their
religious duty to participate in armed jihad.
2. sympathisers and activists; although they will not take part in fighting directly,
their social networking accounts and contact networks will serve as a speaking
tube for the propaganda. Due to thousands of radical followers of ISIS and
al-Qaeda, videos or music spreads throughout the Internet with lightning
3. potential sponsors and decision-makers; The success of terrorist organisations
depends, on the one hand, on the money of radical sympathisers from the
Arabian Peninsula and, on the other hand, regional powers which wage a proxy
war in Syria and Iraq.
4. local enemies of the organisations; ISIS shows brutality to spread fear among
Iraqis and Syrians, fuel hatred between Sunni and Shia Muslims, decrease morale
of the enemy’s armies, break the resistance of civilians, conquer new territories
(which will be ruled by terror) and look for support among the undecided.
5. radicals living in the West; the propaganda of ISIS, al-Qaeda and AQAP
skillfully reinforces their radical views, inspires to carry out acts of terror and
help those who organise them.
6. Western societies; in materials of terrorist organisations they are referred to
as infidels, Crusaders or Zionists. The aim of those publications is to spread
terror in Western societies, maintain the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty,
deepening radical attitudes and hostility.
It should be noted that media messages of terrorist organisations fit perfectly the
media’s demand for brutality and tragedy which sell much better than good news.
At a time when the public wants shock, horror and blood, ISIS media wings deliver
exactly the needed materials which are prepared professionally. They do not require
high financial expanses, editing or substantial processing and are ready to be included
in the evening prime time news. Thus terrorists can influence the way in which they
are presented in the media.
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 115
With What Effect?
In the 1980s, fighters arrived to join the holy war in Afghanistan (the Soviet–Afghan
War), in the 90’s to Bosnia and Chechnya and finally at the beginning of the 21st
Century to Iraq (2003), Somalia (2006) and Afghanistan (2001). Volunteers identifying
themselves with various forms of armed jihad who fight and die in conflicts
and wars for many decades are referred to using the acronym FTF (foreign terrorist
fighters). Currently, terrorist organisations such as the so-called Islamic State, al-
Qaeda or al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula reach out to fighters from the West who
undergo radicalisation by accessing publications in English.9 These include strictly
propaganda materials as well as manuals and guides which can be divided into two
categories – publications which are created for volunteers10 who are preparing to
come to the Middle East and publications for radicals who are spreading terror in
the infidels’ countries.
Out of 70,000 mujahids fighting for the so-called Islamic State, foreign volunteers
constitute 40% (Schmid, Tinnes, 2015, p. 7 – 8) and the majority of them are from the
Middle East11. Currently, it is estimated that around 30,000 fighters from more than
100 countries (Schmid, 2015, p.1) have joined the ranks of ISIS mujahids – around
6,000 comes from Europe. Although volunteers have also joined the al-Nusra Front,
80% of the newcomers fight under the aegis of the Caliphate. It should be stressed that,
although decisions to leave Europe and join a terrorist organisation is a result of various
circumstances and motives, social networking sites and recruitment propaganda
of terrorist organisations play an important role (self-reference) in this matter.
The publications of terrorist organisations are consulted by so-called lone wolves.
The 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack was carried out on the December, 2 by
a Pakistani couple (an American male of Pakistani descent and a Pakistani female) who
had no criminal record and weren’t on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) list.
During an office Christmas party for employees of centre for persons with disabilities,
which was attended by almost 100 people, Syed Rizwan Farook (b. 1987) with his wife
Tashfeen Malik (b. 1986) opened fire and killed 14 people, injured 21 and fled the
scene. They left behind an IED (constructed according to the instructions provided
in the al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine no. 1/2010) hidden in a backpack which was
supposed to explode when the emergency personnel responding to the event would
arrive. The device failed to explode and was disarmed by a bomb squad. The couple
9 The magazines of these organisations are also available in French, German and Russian.
10 For example Hijra to the Islamic State (2015) [n.p.].
11 The largest numbers from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya and Jemen.
116 Karolina Wojtasik
had no ties with any terrorist organisations, was not a part of any terrorist cell and
had become radicalised over the past several years prior to the attack (but before the
emergence of ISIS as a ‘state’).
Firstly, the Internet is a speaking tube for propaganda, a place for recruitment of
future fighters and, most importantly, a ground allowing rapid dissemination of
content and information which are important to terrorist organisations. Terrorist
groups have special departments managing media and communication strategy of
the organisation. They publish materials of very high quality, make efficient use of
modern technologies and social media.
Secondly, the activities of terrorist organisations, seemingly chaotic and random,
are in fact a thought-through method of operation. Terrorists’ methods, means and
strategy are constantly evolving toward higher efficiency and effectiveness.
Moreover, terrorism is an effective use of violence and fear, achieving political
goals by skilful manipulation of the use of force (real or potential) and the impression
evoked by it (Białek, 2005, 33).
Thirdly, he propaganda of terrorist organisations skilfully exerts influence on
minds and hearts of young radicals, fuels their hatred and provides them avenues for
action. It speaks their language, adjusts the level of the messages to the intellectual
capabilities of the receivers and chooses arguments very carefully. Furthermore, the
spectacularism of operation and low detectability causes Salafi organisations to inspire
lone wolves to carry out acts of terror. The Internet is an ideal ground for uploading
propaganda materials and instructions.
Bolechów, B. (2010). Terroryzm: aktorzy, statyści, widownie. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe
Białek, T. (2005). Terroryzm: manipulacja strachem. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Studio EMKA.
Cockburn, P. (2014). Państwo Islamskie, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.
Goban-Klas, T. (2009). Media i terroryści. Czy zastraszą nas na śmierć? Kraków: Wydawnictwo
Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
Evolution of Jihadi Video (2005). Intel Center. Retrieved from https://intelcenter.com/EJV-PUBv1
– 0.pdf.
Hegghammer, T. (2010). “Un-Inspired”. Jihadica. Retrieved from: http://www.jihadica.com/
How and Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use the Internet? 117
Holtmann, P. (2012). „Virtual Jihad: A Real Danger”. In R. Lohlker, New Approaches to the Analysis
of Jihadism: Online and Offline (pp. 9 – 14). Goettingen: V&r Unipress.
Jaworski, M. (2006). „Ekonomia a terroryzm”. In K. Liedel (Ed.), Terrozyzm. Anatomia zjawiska
(pp. 21 – 66). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Scholar
“Letter from the editor” (2010). Inspire, 1p. 2. Retrieved from https://azelin.files.wordpress.
Liedel, K. (Ed.) (2006). Terrozyzm. Anatomia zjawiska. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Scholar.
“Marrying a jihadist” (2011). Al-Shamikha, 1, p. 18. Retrieved from https://www.archive.org/
“Meeting with a mujahid’s wife” (2011). Al-Shamikha, 1, p. 9 – 12. Retrieved from https://www.
Pisarek, W. (2008). Wstęp do nauki o komunikowaniu, Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Akademickie
i Profesjonalne.
Schmid, A.P., & Tinnes, J. (2015). “Foreign (Terrorist) Fighters with IS: A European Perspective”,
The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 6(8), pp. 1 – 69. DOI: http://
Schmid, A.P. (2015). “Foreign (Terrorist) Fighter Estimates: Conceptual and Data Issues “, The
International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague, 6(4), pp. 1 – 21, Retrieved from https://
“The Operation Of ‘Umar Al-Faruq Al-Nigiri In Response To The American Aggression On
Yemen” (2010). Inspire, 1, p. 5. Retrieved from https://azelin.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/
“Your house is your kingdom” (2011). Al-Shamikha, 1, p. 23 – 30. Retrieved from https://www.
Dr Karolina Wojtasik
University of Silesia, Institute of Sociology. Contact details: ul. Bankowa 11, 40 – 007 Katowice,
Poland; e-mail: karolina.wojtasik@us.edu.pl.