Cyber Terrorism

The utilization of cyberspace by extremist and terrorist groups is not a novel occurrence. Since the internet became widely accessible, these groups have also begun to operate within it, and as time has progressed, they have become adept at exploiting this space. Cyberspace is utilized for a variety of purposes in underdeveloped countries; one is to criticize the current economic and political climate, another is to disseminate radical ideology among the masses, a third is to recruit soldiers from those who have been swayed by their rhetoric and propaganda, and a fourth is to project the successes of terrorist groups in defeating their adversaries and demonstrate their strength and power in an effort to attract the utilitarian elements and dissuade them from joining their rivals.

Extremist groups have seen remarkable successes in cyberspace due to the thousands of inexperienced and naive young people from around the world who have become devoted followers of these groups, some joining ISIS, some AlQaeda, and some the Taliban. Although these groups are not yet able to influence major global events, they are often used by the major players in the global political arena, such as the United States, Russia, China, and Europe. More importantly, these groups have a significant impact on the fate of their countries, as their promotion of war, disruption of security and stability, and exacerbation of sectarian conflicts impede the development and progress of these areas, making life more difficult for the people. Terrorism is a major cause of backwardness, poverty, deprivation, and illiteracy.

Terrorist groups are not alone in their mission; they have strategic partners in the form of fundamentalist individuals and groups who may appear to be different or even critical of the Taliban, AlQaeda, and ISIS. However, by propagating the ideas that form the ideological basis of terrorist groups, attacking divergent ideologies, and classifying Muslims as religious and nonreligious, they provide a fertile ground for recruitment. Studies have revealed that a significant number of foot soldiers of these groups were initially influenced by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb-e-Tahrir, and Salafism, before eventually joining more extreme groups such as ISIS and the Taliban.

The lack of effective programs to deal with extremism and terrorism raises the threat level and increases the risk of terrorism. Most of what is shared in cyberspace does not contribute to neutralizing their propagation. Those concerned about the growth of terrorism often expend their energy and time on trivial political and ethnic arguments, which inadvertently aids terrorist campaigns. The role of virtual space in the spread of extremism must be taken seriously and the strategy to deal with terrorism must be fundamentally revised; otherwise, this monster will consume the culture, art, and life of our people.