Domestic Terrorism in Cyberspace

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Image retrieved from The Times of India

Not only do terrorist groups inflict fear in the real world, but they also turn to the internet to inflict fear throughout cyberspace. This especially relates to domestic terrorist organizations in the United States. According to Taylor et al. (2015), “Neo-Nazis, animal rights groups, militias, Black Blocs, and hate mongers all have not only Web sites but clubs, posting boards, news groups, and all other types of Internet communities” (224). With the advancement of the internet, these groups can now recruit people a lot easier and now allows a certain level of communications between these groups. In order to entice new recruits these extremist organizations typically use games, music, or images to spread the idea of what they stand for.

According to the book, there are three D’s that play a role in enticing new members. The three D’s mentioned are dehumanize, desensitize, and demonize. The purpose of the three D’s is that they tend to dehumanize the enemy and desensitize the consumer who is participating in the computer games. Due to some of the racial propaganda in these games, it is believed that being exposed to this kind of propaganda will come “into the mind under the cover of the action will serve to desensitize individuals to the horrors of hate that these groups preach” (Taylor et al., 2015, 224). When a game called Ethnic Cleansing was released, people were outraged over the idea of killing what the game referred to as “subhumans.” There are many more propaganda games like Ethnic Cleansing out there that deliver extremist groups beliefs. With the popularity of the internet, these propaganda games make it easier for domestic terrorist groups to get there ideology out to people. These groups then begin to gain followers who start believing in the same ideologies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation have noticed how much of a role the internet plays in the promotion of domestic terrorist groups. Current FBI Director James Comey believes that another attack like 9/11 will not occur on US soil and believes attacks like 9/11 will occur in other countries. When he was testifying to the Senate homeland security and government affairs committee, he stated that he believed domestic cyber terrorism was the new topic to be looked at. In the newspaper, The Guardian, it reports him saying “cyber-attacks were likely to eclipse terrorism as a domestic danger over the next decade” (Ackerman, S., 2013). Domestic terrorists can cause a lot of harm if they can access the right tools on the internet. An example are the two domestic liberal activist groups, ALF and ELF. ALF focuses on animal rights and exploitation and ELF focuses on environmental issues. These two groups could pose a major threat to critical infrastructure if they were able to enable an attack on the internet. The idea of a cyberattack caused by a group like ALF and ELF has many officials worried. They “remain fearful that domestic terrorist groups will crack into important systems and create severe damage or steal classified information” (Taylor et al., 2015, 223). It is important for the US government to turn its attention to domestic terrorists in cyberspace. Terrorist attacks don’t just happen physically anymore, they occur all throughout cyberspace and that poses a new issue.

References:

Ackerman, S. (2013, November 14). Cyber-attacks eclipsing terrorism as gravest domestic threat- FBI. Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/14/cyber-attacks-terrorism-domestic-threat-fbi

Taylor, R., Fritsch, E., & Liederbach, J. (2015). Anarchy and hate on the world wide web. In Digital crime and digital terrorism (Third e., pp. 219-239). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson.

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