Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 8

Counterterrorism Related Abstracts

8 The Rise of Darknet: A Call for Understanding Online Communication of Terrorist Groups in Indonesia

Authors: Aulia Dwi Nastiti


A number of studies and reports on terrorism have continuously addressed the role of internet and online activism to support terrorist and extremist groups. In particular, they stress on social media’s usage that generally serves for the terrorist’s propaganda as well as justification of their causes. While those analyses are important to understand how social media is a vital tool for global network terrorism, they are inadequate to explain the online communication patterns that enable terrorism acts. Beyond apparent online narratives, there is a deep cyber sphere where the very vein of terrorism movement lies. That is a hidden space in the internet called ‘darknet’. Recent investigations, particularly in Middle Eastern context, have shed some lights that this invisible space in the internet is fundamental to maintain the terrorist activities. Despite that, limited number of research examines darknet within the issue of terrorist movements in Indonesian context—where the country is considered quite a hotbed for extremist groups. Therefore, this paper attempts to provide an insight of darknet operation in Indonesian cases. By exploring how the darknet is used by the Indonesian-based extremist groups, this paper maps out communication patterns of terrorist groups on the internet which appear as an intermingled network. It shows the usage of internet is differentiated in different level of anonymity for distinctive purposes. This paper further argues that the emerging terrorist communication network calls for a more comprehensive counterterrorism strategy on the Internet.

Keywords: Terrorism, Counterterrorism, communication pattern, darknet, extremist groups

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7 The Importance of Information in Psychological Operations for Counterterrorism

Authors: Abbas Fazelinia


Terrorism is not a new phenomenon to the world, yet it remains difficult to define and to counter. Countering terrorism requires several measures that must be taken at the same time. Counterterrorism strategies of most countries depend on military measures. However, those strategies should also focus on nonlethal measures, such as economic, political, and social measures. The psychological dimensions of terrorism must be understood, evaluated, and used in countering terrorism. This study suggests that psychological operations, as nonlethal military operations, can be used to influence individuals not to join terrorist organizations and to facilitate defections from terrorist organizations. However, in order to implement effective psychological operations, one has to have appropriate intelligence about terrorist organizations. Examining terrorist organizations help us to identify their vulnerabilities and obtain this intelligence. This article concludes that terrorists’ motivations, terrorist organizations’ radicalization, recruitment, and conversion processes, ideology, goals, strategies, and general structure form the intelligence requirement for psychological operations in counterterrorism. The methodology used in this article is a mixed method.

Keywords: Terrorism, Counterterrorism, Psychological Operations, terrorist

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6 Understanding the Caliphate and Jihad to Prevent Radicalization That Lead to Terrorism: The Role of Social Community in Southeast Asia

Authors: Jordan Daud, Satriya Wibawa, Wahyu Wardhana


In the summer of 2014, the leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria proclaimed the founding of religious-political system known as the caliphate which titled Islamic State (IS). As Caliph, Abu Bakr Baghdadi advocated Jihad from the Ummah (the Muslim community) to defend the Islamic state from unbelievers. This call for Jihad by IS had encouraged some radical organization in Southeast Asia pledge allegiance to IS and established bases for IS operation in Southeast Asia. This development had increased security concern for possible terrorism action in Southeast Asia, which currently not very active due to counterterrorism efforts from ASEAN member states and its cooperation with the world. This paper firstly tries to draw understanding from Ulema (Muslim cleric) about the conception of caliphate and Jihad based on Quran and Hadith. Secondly, this paper will elaborate counterterrorism efforts from ASEAN countries to prevent radicalization and terrorism act in addressing the call for jihad to establish IS in Southeast Asia. The third, this paper will recommend the role of the social community, especially Ulema, in Southeast Asia to prevent the misunderstanding of Jihad which usually used by terrorist to justify their action. Hopefully, this social community role will decrease the radicalization of Muslim community in Southeast Asia alongside with the counterterrorism efforts to create secure and stable ASEAN community based on shared norm and values.

Keywords: Caliphate, Counterterrorism, Jihad, ASEAN, social community

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5 Cyber-Social Networks in Preventing Terrorism: Topological Scope

Authors: Alessandra Rossodivita, Alexei Tikhomirov, Andrey Trufanov, Nikolay Kinash, Olga Berestneva, Svetlana Nikitina, Fabio Casati, Alessandro Visconti, Tommaso Saporito


It is well known that world and national societies are exposed to diverse threats: anthropogenic, technological, and natural. Anthropogenic ones are of greater risks and, thus, attract special interest to researchers within wide spectrum of disciplines in efforts to lower the pertinent risks. Some researchers showed by means of multilayered, complex network models how media promotes the prevention of disease spread. To go further, not only are mass-media sources included in scope the paper suggests but also personificated social bots (socbots) linked according to reflexive theory. The novel scope considers information spread over conscious and unconscious agents while counteracting both natural and man-made threats, i.e., infections and terrorist hazards. Contrary to numerous publications on misinformation disseminated by ‘bad’ bots within social networks, this study focuses on ‘good’ bots, which should be mobilized to counter the former ones. These social bots deployed mixture with real social actors that are engaged in concerted actions at spreading, receiving and analyzing information. All the contemporary complex network platforms (multiplexes, interdependent networks, combined stem networks et al.) are comprised to describe and test socbots activities within competing information sharing tools, namely mass-media hubs, social networks, messengers, and e-mail at all phases of disasters. The scope and concomitant techniques present evidence that embedding such socbots into information sharing process crucially change the network topology of actor interactions. The change might improve or impair robustness of social network environment: it depends on who and how controls the socbots. It is demonstrated that the topological approach elucidates techno-social processes within the field and outline the roadmap to a safer world.

Keywords: Counterterrorism, complex network platform, information sharing topology, social bots

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4 Framing the Dynamics and Functioning of Different Variants of Terrorist Organizations: A Business Model Perspective

Authors: Eisa Younes Alblooshi


Counterterrorism strategies, to be effective and efficient, require a sound understanding of the dynamics, the interlinked organizational elements of the terrorist outfits being combated, with a view to having cognizance of their strong points to be guarded against, as well as the vulnerable zones that can be targeted for optimal results in a timely fashion by counterterrorism agencies. A unique model regarding the organizational imperatives was evolved in this research through likening the terrorist organizations with the traditional commercial ones, with a view to understanding in detail the dynamics of interconnectivity and dependencies, and the related compulsions facing the leaderships of such outfits that provide counterterrorism agencies with opportunities for forging better strategies. It involved assessing the evolving organizational dynamics and imperatives of different types of terrorist organizations, to enable the researcher to construct a prototype model that defines the progression and linkages of the related organizational elements of such organizations. It required detailed analysis of how the various elements are connected, with sequencing identified, as any outfit positions itself with respect to its external environment and internal dynamics. A case study focusing on a transnational radical religious state-sponsored terrorist organization was conducted to validate the research findings and to further strengthen the specific counterterrorism strategies. Six different variants of the business model of terrorist organizations were identified, categorized based on their outreach, mission, and status of any state sponsorship. The variants represent vast majority of the range of terrorist organizations acting locally or globally. The model shows the progression and dynamics of these organizations through various dimensions including mission, leadership, outreach, state sponsorship status, resulting in the organizational structure, state of autonomy, preference divergence in its fold, recruitment core, propagation avenues, down to their capacity to adapt, resulting critically in their own life cycles. A major advantage of the model is the utility of mapping terrorist organizations according to their fits to the sundry identified variants, allowing for flexibility and differences within, enabling the researchers and counterterrorism agencies to observe a neat blueprint of the organization’s footprint, along with highlighting the areas to be evaluated for focused target zone selection and timing of counterterrorism interventions. Special consideration is given to the dimension of financing, keeping in context the latest developments regarding cryptocurrencies, hawala, and global anti-money laundering initiatives. Specific counterterrorism strategies and intervention points have been identified for each of the respective model variants, with a view to efficient and effective deployment of resources.

Keywords: Strategy, Terrorism, Counterterrorism, model

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3 The Evolution of Strike and Intelligence Functions in Special Operations Forces

Authors: John Hardy


The expansion of special operations forces (SOF) in the twenty-first century is often discussed in terms of the size and disposition of SOF units. Research regarding the number SOF personnel, the equipment SOF units procure, and the variety of roles and mission that SOF fulfill in contemporary conflicts paints a fascinating picture of changing expectations for the use of force. A strong indicator of the changing nature of SOF in contemporary conflicts is the fusion of strike and intelligence functions in the SOF in many countries. What were once more distinct roles on the kind of battlefield generally associated with the concept of conventional warfare have become intermingled in the era of persistent conflict which SOF face. This study presents a historical analysis of the co-evolution of the intelligence and direct action functions carried out by SOF in counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and training and mentoring missions between 2004 and 2016. The study focuses primarily on innovation in the US military and the diffusion of key concepts to US allies first, and then more broadly afterward. The findings show that there were three key phases of evolution throughout the period of study, each coinciding with a process of innovation and doctrinal adaptation. The first phase was characterized by the fusion of intelligence at the tactical and operational levels. The second phase was characterized by the industrial counterterrorism campaigns used by US SOF against irregular enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The third phase was characterized by increasing forward collection of actionable intelligence by SOF force elements in the course of direct action raids. The evolution of strike and intelligence functions in SOF operations between 2004 and 2016 was significantly influenced by reciprocity. Intelligence fusion led to more effective targeting, which then increased intelligence collection. Strike and intelligence functions were then enhanced by greater emphasis on intelligence exploitation during operations, which further increased the effectiveness of both strike and intelligence operations.

Keywords: military operations, Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Counterinsurgency, Irregular Warfare, special operations forces

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2 Mothers, the Missing Link: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Women-Centric Counterterrorism Measures

Authors: Bukola Solomon


In counterterrorism, policymakers typically design a confined role for women as family members and nurturers. In recent years, they have embraced the idea of mothers as the missing link to preventing and countering violent extremism. This ‘programmed’ role of women is derived from the convictions that women’s central roles in the family and community afford them the ‘unique set of skills’ to detect early signs of radicalization and extremism. This paper attempts to focus on the ‘mother’ narrative that frames women’s agency as mothers of ‘terrorists’ and ‘potential’ terrorists. The general underlying assumption of the ‘mother’ narrative is that naturally, every ‘terrorist’ has or once had a mother, and their radicalization is a maternal ‘oversight.’ By deconstructing the notion of motherhood as a social construct instead of an inherent female desire and ability, this paper argues that the assumption of ‘mothers know best’ is invalid. Also, this paper suggests that the ‘mother’ narrative is a deliberate effort to restrict women’s participation in counterterrorism as ‘preventers.’ Finally, this paper notes a global trend in which mothers are contesting the dominant view of women empowerment that restricts their agency by seeking alternative versions in terrorist organizations. And as such, they create parallel terror cells. Thus, the overemphasis on the role women plays as mothers in counterterrorism limits the scope and potential of counterterrorism programs by marginalizing gender issues and reinforcing gender disparities to the extent that the programs become counterproductive.

Keywords: Gender, Women, Terrorism, Counterterrorism, Countering Violent Extremism, Gender Roles

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1 Understanding Psychological Distress and Protection Issues among Children Associated with Armed Groups

Authors: Grace Onubedo


The primary objective of this research study is to contribute to and deepen the understanding of the realities and conditions for which children recruited by violent extremist organisations in Nigeria live, as well as ascertain the state of their mental health following their reunification with either family or protection workers. The research is intended to contribute to a more focused child protection programming agenda for children associated with armed forces and groups in Nigeria and the wider conflict setting. The extent to which violence has affected the psychological well-being and mental health of children abducted and exposed to activities of Violent Extremist groups remains a largely empirical question. This research attempts to answer the following research questions with the aim of providing further evidences for informed programming: I. What are the demographic characteristics of children associated with armed groups? II. What is the state of their mental health? III. What is the relationship between their background and their mental health?

Keywords: Children, Psychological distress, Counterterrorism, psychosocial support, armed groups

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