A joint report by the Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
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The internet is at the centre of modern life. It can facilitate understanding between people of different cultures and promote a sense of global community. At the same time, however, it can be a powerful tool for terrorists to promote extremist ideology and hatred.
The writings of terrorist groups are regularly posted on websites in our region. And extremists use various web forums and chat rooms to entice new recruits. Convicted terrorists have given evidence about the influence of the internet in their recruitment and communication strategies.
Although the internet has become an important tool for tactical operations such as bombings, psychological warfare and fundraising, the focus in this paper is on its use as a tool to radicalise potential supporters.
This study found that the internet has contributed to radicalisation, will probably grow in regional significance, and might become the dominant factor in radicalisation in the region. And it’s not just passive websites that are important in this context: social networking sites of all kinds, such as blogs and forums, are evolving rapidly.
This paper discusses several policy approaches to counter the use of the internet for radicalisation in our region. These include blocking sites, creating counternarrative websites to promote tolerance, and intelligence-led methods to tackle the problem.
In preparing this report, the authors canvassed a range of views among officials in Australia and the region, as well as those of industry representatives and community stakeholders. The project was carried out jointly by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. We are grateful to the authors and all those, from both organisations, involved in the production of the report.
The report makes an important contribution to understanding how terrorist organisations use the internet in our region and provides clear pathways for policy development to counter online radicalisation at the national and regional levels.
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Australian Strategic Policy Institute