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UNIT 11:
Terrorism, Radicalization, and The War of Ideas

Cybercrime, Cyberterrorism, and Digital Law Enforcement
Professor K. A. Taipale (bio) (contact)

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UNIT 11:
Terrorism, Radicalization, and The War of Ideas


Advanced information and communications technology increases the capabilities and capacities of hostile non-state organizations/actors to threaten the exisitng international order. How can/should nation states respond?

Enabled by modern network technologies, power is “shifting to the edge,” allowing decentralized networked groups to compete with traditional hierarchical organization forms. The globalization of communications and computing infrastructure (together with new collaborative software) is allowing hostile non-state groups—including terrorists, criminal organizations, rogue corporations, anti-globalization movements, pernicious hackers, and proxy groups acting on behalf of or ‘encouraged’ by other nation states or these other entities—to directly threaten national security and international stability. Increasingly, existing security arrangements and practices based on rigid geographic borders, exclusive sovereign control of physical territory, and unilateral response to global threats by individual nation states are inadequate to counter these groups effectively.


K. A. Taipale, Power to the Edge: New Threats, New Responses in America's Security Role in a Changing World: A Global Strategic Assessment 2009, National Defense University 2009.

George Packer, "KNOWING THE ENEMY: Can social scientists redefine the “war on terror”? The New Yorker (Dec. 18, 2006).

New York Police Department, "Radicalization in the West: the Homegrown Threat," (Aug 15, 2007) (download PDF).

Brian Michael Jenkins, "Combating Radicalization," RAND (Aug. 23, 2007).

H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (passed House by vote of 404-6, Oct 23, 2007).

Matt Korade, "Harman, ACLU Exchange Barbs Over Terrorism Commission," CQ Politics (Nov. 28, 2007).

Declan McCullagh, "Congress' "anti-extremist" bill targets online thoughtcrime," CNET News (Nov. 28, 2007)

Chris Strohm, "Rights advocates target domestic terrorism bill in Senate," Congress Daily ( (Nov. 29, 2007) ("Several privacy and civil liberties groups are taking aim at legislation targeted at preventing violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism inside the United States. They fear that it could lead to the criminalization of beliefs, unconstitutional restrictions on speech, racial or religious profiling, and Internet censorship.")

Greg Grant, "Defense, diplomatic agencies collaborate on counterinsurgency guide," Government Executive (Dec. 6, 2007) ("The Defense and State departments and the U.S. [AID] have collaborated on an interim counterinsurgency guide that calls for a "whole-of-government" approach to battling these complex conflicts.")

U.S. Department of State, "Counterinsurgency for U.S. Government Policy Makers: A Work in Progress" (October 2007) (download 9.9 MB PDF).

STAFF REPORT: "Violent islamist extremism, the internet, and the homegrown terrorist threat" [1.7 MB PDF]," U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (May 8, 2008).



USA PATRIOT ACT - Material Support
18 U.S.C. § 2339A. Providing material support to terrorists.
18 U.S.C. § 2339B. Providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.

U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

U.K. Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2005 (control orders)


Terrorist Use of Internet/Responses and Material support prosecutions:

Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser, "Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations," Wash. Post (Aug. 7, 2005).

Jon Swartz, "Terrorists' use of Internet spreads," USA Today (Feb. 20, 2005).

Declan McCullagh, Webmaster indicted for terror support, CNET News (Aug. 29, 2002) ("A federal grand jury has indicted the founder of the Web site on charges of aiding al-Qaida terrorists").

Ben Charney, Webmaster held on terror charges, CNET News (Aug. 6, 2004) ("The publisher of two pro-jihad Web sites has been arrested in London on suspicion of terrorism-related activities ... was remanded in custody by a London magistrates court on Friday on a U.S. extradition warrant. American authorities are seeking to try Ahmad on five federal charges, including material support of terrorism and prohibited support of the Taliban ... is accused of raising money for Islamic militants through two American-based Web sites that he operated).

Maureen O'Hagan, A terrorism case that went awry, Seattle Times (Nov. 22, 2004) ("Al-Hussayen was charged under a clause [in the PATRIOT Act] that expanded the definition of "material support" to include those who provide "expert advice or assistance" to terrorists' cause. He was the first person ever to be charged under that provision, ... . The contention was that al-Hussayen used his expert skills as Webmaster, so that made him a terrorist.")

Declan McCullagh, U.K. Webmaster accused of aiding terrorists, CNET News (Jul. 20, 2006) ("The arrest .... came at the request of the U.S. government, which released a 14-page indictment (click for PDF) accusing him of selling books, videotapes, audio cassettes, and CD-ROMs that glorified "violent jihad in Chechnya, Bosnia, Afghanistan" and funneling money to groups that were deemed illegal by the federal government").

BOOK REVIEW: Robert F. Worth, TheirSpace, N.Y. Times (Jun. 25, 2006) review of Gabriel Weimann, TERROR ON THE INTERNET (2007). ("Al Qaeda now views the Internet not only as an essential recruitment tool and means of communication with volunteers, but as a virtual training camp. No more need for Afghanistan: would-be terrorists can download manuals and videotapes that show them how to make explosive vests, car bombs, chemical weapons and poisons, and a library of tips on how to use them all effectively. The danger is not just theoretical. There is evidence that some of the newest terrorists were recruited and sometimes trained this way.").

Sebastian Rotella, "A World Wide Web of terrorist plotting," L. A. Times (Apr. 16, 2007) ("The Internet has become a virtual operations center replacing the Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan and Bosnia").

Jeffrey Carr, "Anti-Forensic Methods Used by Jihadist Web Sites," eSecurity (Aug. 16, 2007) ("As international law enforcement, intelligence, and military agencies step up their efforts to monitor [Jihadist] Web sites (which now number in the thousands), Muslim extremists are turning to both low tech and high tech solutions to maintain their operational security").

"Al-Qaeda offers cellphone video downloads," USA Today (AP) (Jan. 6, 2008) ("Video messages of al-Qaeda leaders ... can now be downloaded to cellphones, the terror network announced ... . The announcement was posted ... by al-Qaeda's media wing, al-Sahab, on websites commonly used by Islamic militants.").

Gordon Corera, "The world's most wanted cyber-jihadist," BBC News (Jan, 16, 2008) ("When police raided a flat in West London in October 2005, they arrested a young man, originally from Morocco, called Younes Tsouli [Irhabi 007]. They had no idea, at the time, just how significant he was.").

"Smith targets internet extremism," BBC News (Jan. 17, 2008) ("The [British] home secretary has outlined plans to target websites promoting extremism, as part of efforts to stop people being drawn towards radical groups.").

Craig Whitlock, "Terror Suspects Hone Anti-Detection Skills: Simple Codes, Remote Sites, Internet Phone Calls Among Means Used to Foil High-Tech Surveillance," Washington Post A:11 (Jan. 5, 2008) ("In an age of spy satellites, security cameras and an Internet that stores every keystroke, terrorism suspects are using simple, low-tech tricks to cloak their communications, making life difficult for authorities who had hoped technology would give them the upper hand. .... [On the other hand] however, ... the trackers would always have one important advantage: Because conspirators must communicate, they will always be vulnerable to eavesdropping in some form.")

Mark Trevelyan, "Ways sought to combat militants on Web," Reuters (Jan. 17, 2008) ("The government wants the Internet industry to help combat militant Islamism on the Web in the same way it cooperates in fighting sex crime against children, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said on Thursday.")




K. A. Taipale, Power to the Edge: New Threats, New Responses in America's Security Role in a Changing World: A Global Strategic Assessment 2009, National Defense University 2009

K. A. Taipale, Seeking Symmetry on the Information Front: Confronting Global Jihad on the Internet, 16 Nat'l Strategy F. Rev. 14 (Summer 2007).

K. A. Taipale, "Seeking Symmetry in Fourth Generation Warfare: Information Operations in the War of Ideas," presented at the Bantle-Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) Symposium: "Challenges in the Struggle Against Violent Extremism: Winning the War of Ideas" at Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, Mar. 29-30, 2006.

K. A. Taipale, "Information as Warfare: Disrupting Terrorist Networks" presented at the Yale Information Society Project 2005 conference, "The Global Flow of Information," at the Yale Law School on Apr. 1-3, 2005.

K. A. Taipale, "Transnational Intelligence and Surveillance: Security Envelopes, Trusted Systems, and the Panoptic Global Security State," draft prepared for presentation at the 'Beyond Terror: A New Security Agenda' Conference Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI, Jun. 3-4, 2005.



Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, Stealing Al-Qa'ida's Playbook (2006).

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, Harmony and Disharmony: Exploiting Al-Qa'ida's Organizational Vulnerabilities (2006).



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Course Outline/Class Units

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  1. Overview, What is Cybercrime?
  2. Computer Intrusions and Attacks (Unauthorized Access)
  3. Computer Viruses, Time Bombs, Trojans, Malicious Code (Malware)
  4. Online Fraud and Identity Theft; Intellectual Property Theft; Virtual Crime
  5. Online Vice: Gambling; Pornography; Child Exploitation
  6. International Aspects and Jurisdiction
  7. Infrastructure and Information Security; Risk Management
  8. Investigating Cybercrime: Digital Evidence and Computer Forensics
  9. Interception, Search and Seizure, and Surveillance
  10. Information Warfare, Cyberterrorism, and Hacktivism
  11. Terrorism, Radicalization, and The War of Ideas
  12. Trade Secret Theft and Economic Espionage
  13. National Security
  14. Case Study: CALEA, VoIP

Course Information



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