The internet has increased the “lone wolf phenomena” and little to nothing is being done to counter online jihadist websites and propaganda, Peter Neumann, director of the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, said at a New America Foundation event on online radicalization of Muslims.
He said that the Internet has “profoundly changed” how the West responds to Islamist radicalization and that “it’s not a coincidence that we’re seeing” an increase in online Islamist radicalization. And, because of the interconnectedness of the Internet, chat rooms and online communities, “we’re seeing [terrorism] in places” that never were terrorist hotbeds before.
Neumann said that online radicalization is “in the process of turning upside down a lot of longtime assumptions.” He argued that the West thinks that terrorists aren’t on the internet (they are). Additionally, the West mistakenly believes it can fix the problem by shutting down their websites. Regarding the latter, Neumann said that it is “very difficult, almost impossible” for governments to shut down and remove all parts of the internet. For example, Inspired magazine, which inspired the brutal Woolwich murder of a British soldier by Muslim radicals, is posted online, and reposted on a variety of chat rooms and websites in addition to Twitter. Trying to remove it is futile, noted Neumann.
The real danger of a lone wolf and Islamist terrorism, according to Neumann, is the terror and fear that these acts can create. This is the real reason why terrorism is a great threat: it attacks the security and peace of mind of civilians and an entire nation.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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