Security Internet Religion

Islamic Fundamentalist Recruitment Online


An internet cafe in Taipei. Photo: Jared Tarbell/flickr

The idea that Islamic extremists use the internet for terrorist purposes is not exactly a revelation – terrorists have been coordinating attacks and spreading propaganda via email since the 1990s. Nevertheless, recent reports from the White House, as well as the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, suggest that the internet is being used more and more as a platform for extremist recruitment. With the rise of ‘Web 2.0’, or user-generated web content, extremists are now able to reach and interact with audiences of all ages, genders, backgrounds across geographic boundaries. Consequently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of ‘non-affiliated cells’ willing to carry out potentially fatal attacks.

  The internet is now the most important method of spreading jihad and Islam.
  -Imam Samudra, orchestrator of the 2003 Bali Bombings

This audio-visual slideshow looks at the methods currently being used by Islamic extremists to radicalize individuals online and equip them for violence._

  For more information, please click here  


The internet can be a powerful weapon for spreading extremist messages. With the exponential growth of global internet connectivity, it is now more important than ever that NGOs, think tanks, and governments work together to generate effective strategies to counter the use of the internet for these purposes. As noted at the conference of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) on the Use of the Internet to Counter the Appeal of Extremist Violence in Riyadh earlier this year, for every harmful message on a particular internet medium, there should also be a counter-narrative on the same medium which provides a sound alternative to radicalized ideologies. Terrorist recruitment on the internet should not be a problem that is dealt with reactively– it needs to be defused before the real damage is felt.

For a much more detailed analysis on these topics, please read:


  • The United Nations CTITF Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes – website

The ISN Quiz: Debating Jihad

What do you know about the concept of jihad, the topic of our latest Special Report: Debating Jihad? Find out in this week’s quiz.



ISN Weekly Theme: Debating Jihad


Cairo skyline in dusk

Although high up on the list of security policy priorities, the scope of Islamic terrorism and its ideological underpinnings remain contested. With fundamental implications for counterterrorism efforts, a clear understanding of the roots and implications of jihadism are crucial to the formulation of effective responses.

This week’s Special Report sheds light on this complex phenomenon and contains the following content, navigated along the tab structure above:

  • An Analysis by Kaisa Schreck examines the history and practice of jihad from a conceptual standpoint.
  • In our Podcast interview Lorenzo Vidino of Harvard University discusses the “Europeanization of jihad” and the unprecedented challenge that this poses to governments as they seek to prevent future attacks while countering the narrative of radicalization.
  • Security Watch articles examining the fight against jihadism in Bosnia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen.
  • Publications housed in our Digital Library, including an International Crisis Group report on jihad in Indonesia.
  • Links to relevant websites, including an article analyzing the root causes and religious justifications of extremism in Saudi Arabia.
  • Our IR Directory with relevant organizations, among them the Quilliam Foundation.