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A Guide for Criminal Justice Professionals On How Terrorists use the Web to Spread Propaganda

The internet creates more opportunities to become radicalized. It has become a huge place for terrorists to reach out to others and exploit them to their immoral behaviors. The internet has an “echo chamber” which is a place where individuals find their ideas supported and echoed by other like-minded individuals. The web also allows radicalization to occur without physical contact. Terrorists use the internet for the following purposes: propaganda, recruitment, training, fundraising, communication, and targeting.


Previously, terrorist’s groups would have to rely on news outlets reporting their message to the world after an attack. Now, terrorist groups can easily post the message in its entirety on their own website and include a rebuttal to opposing views.

Terrorist groups can portray themselves as victims seeking a peaceful resolution who were forced into acts of violence as a last resort. Websites also host videos of successful attacks against American targets, creating jihadi heroes.


Terrorists use websites that are customized to reach out and recruit specific audiences.

Terrorist organizations start planting the seeds of their ideology in the minds of children with video games, available for download on the internet, centered on defending the world against infidel invaders of various sorts creating a “global Islamic caliphate.”

Supporters such as AQUAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) create “educational cartoons” to capture the minds of children to follow in the steps of jihadi fighters.


Training new recruits no longer require traveling to a foreign country to attend a terrorist boot camp.

Website resources offer information and videos on physical training, bomb-making, and kidnapping.


Terrorists directly ask for funds to be donated to their jihad in some instances.

Groups use charities and NGOs such as the Global Relief Foundation to funnel money for them.

They also attempt to sell goods through their websites to raise funds.


Terrorists organization use several platforms online to communicate.

They use web forums, Twitter and Facebook, Paltalk (a video chat room for recruitment and planning), email and email groups.


Terrorists use a GPS to coordinate landings, how to bypass security forces, and how to gain access.

Information on public buildings or nuclear power plants can easily be found online.


If you would like to learn more on this topic and become an expert in social media intelligence, click here.

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