Preliminary Analytical Considerations in Designing a Terrorism and Extremism Online Network Extractor

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This 2014 paper presents a web-crawler called the Terrorism and Extremism Network Extractor (TENE), designed to gather information about extremist activities on the Internet. In particular, the paper focuses on how TENE may help differentiate terrorist websites from anti-terrorist websites by analyzing the context around the use of predetermined keywords found within text content on webpages. A core premise of the paper is that terrorists are increasingly utilizing the Internet to achieve their objectives. The authors illustrate their strategy through a content analysis of four types of websites: a white supremacist site, a jihadist site, a terrorism-related news site, and an official counterterrorism site. To explore differences between these websites the presence of and context around 33 keywords was examined on the selected websites.

This paper will be of use to practitioners and researchers interested in web-crawler and data extractor tools as well as content and keyword analysis of websites. The authors find that certain words appear more frequently on certain types of websites than others, and argue that this could potentially serve as an effective method for differentiating between terrorist websites and those that simply refer to terrorist activities. For example, words such as \terrorist," \security," \mission," \intelligence," and \report," all appear with much greater frequency on counterterrorist websites than the white supremacist or the jihadist websites. In addition, the white supremacist and the jihadist websites used words such as \destroy," \kill," and \attack" in a specific context: not to describe their activities or their members, but to portray themselves as victims. The authors also discuss the future developments of TENE.

M Bouchard, K Joffres, R Frank