Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2006, $275,802)
The purpose of the proposed research is to provide a comprehensive social science based analysis of how jihadists use the Internet - how it serves their needs and objectives - by examining what jihadists themselves say and do on interactive web sites (i.e. forums). The specific aims of the project are the following: a. Identify the topics or categories of discussions found on Arabic-language jihadist web sites. b. Quantify the various uses that jihadists make of the Internet, determine the relative importance of those uses to the jihadists themselves, and which topics most resonate with forum participants. c. Compare jihadist reactions to official communications from the organizations waging the global jihad to what is currently known regarding the communications goals and strategies of those organizations. d. Provide a comprehensive picture of the types of crime discussed, facilitated or perpetrated when jihadists use the Internet as a tool to support terrorism, including the rationalizations and justifications used. The study will apply content analysis to a random sample of the most active discussions found on prominent Arabic-language jihadist web sites over a one-year period. A panel of coders/judges who are Muslim native speakers of Arabic will code the data. The analysis will identify the observed categories and topics of discussion, and enumerate their relative frequencies and purpose. It will also examine the context, purpose and the forms in which issues of crime and terrorism arise in exchanges. The implications of the results for legal and law enforcement responses to the use of the Internet by jihadists in furthering terrorism and perpetrating crime will be formulated.