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Terrorism and the internet: a double‐edged sword

Shima D. Keene (The Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to highlight the extent of the use of the internet by terrorist organisations to achieve their strategic and operational objectives.


The methodology adopted consisted of an extensive literature review on topics to include Islamic terrorism, cyber crime, globalisation, and financial crime, supported by field work to verify findings.


Al‐Qaeda has become a radical Islamic phenomenon held together through its global network of communities, both virtual and physical. One significant enabler has been the internet, which enables anonymous communication, aids recruitment, encourages the sharing of knowledge, as well as playing a significant role in the spreading of propaganda. The understanding of the use of internet‐based technologies, not only as a potential target for terrorist attack, but as a tool to achieve its ideological and operational goals, remains a neglected area of study requiring further focus.


This paper serves as a useful guide to alert and educate counter‐terrorism professionals, law enforcement and policy makers of the significance of the extent of the use of the internet for purposes such as operational planning, recruitment, psychological operations and fund raising. It is essential that these subjects should not be viewed as a peripheral issue to cyber‐terrorism, but instead, should be considered to be central to the existing counter‐terrorism effort.



Keene, S.D. (2011), "Terrorism and the internet: a double‐edged sword", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 359-370.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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