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Jihad, Crime, and the Internet: Content Analysis of Jihadist Forum Discussions

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2011
179 pages
This study presents quantitative and qualitative assessments of the content of communications in the forum discussions on Jihadist Web sites that are of most concern to U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
The study's findings indicate that most Jihadist on-line forum discussions are brief, involve a small number of participants from among the registered forum members, and include few entries and pages. Forum participants often refer viewers to approved web site and share authentic Jihadist multimedia. References and quotes from religious sources are common. Just over one-third of the discussions include calls for Jihad, and 3 percent of the communications discussed non-terrorist illegal activities, particularly computer-related and software-related offenses. Content analysis of the forum discussions identified four categories of content: information dissemination, religious preaching, instruction or training, and social interactions. These content categories support three core activities of the terrorist organization: ideological foundation, organizational structure, and operational means. Based on these findings the study offers a number of policy recommendations. First, analyze the forum discussions to determine the current status of Jihadist attention and interest. Second, respond to threats by adding interference at any touch point along the communication process. Third, mitigate the harm posed by exposure of Web site viewers to violent imagery. Fourth, the content of forum discussions could increase understanding of the context of the Arab, Muslim, and Jihadist milieu in which the forum social interactions occur. Recommendations for further research are offered. Extensive references from a literature review

Date Published: October 1, 2011