Sub Saharan African Terrorist Groups’ Use of the Internet

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This 2014 article is based on a study of terrorist groups’ use of web technologies in Sub Saharan Africa. The study investigated 245 terrorist groups operating across 45 countries in the Sub Saharan African region as determined by data held within the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). The authors’ study had three core objectives: to quantify the web presence of terrorists active in Sub Saharan Africa, to explore the relationship between web technology availability and its adoption by terrorist groups, and to advance the methodology of terrorist netnography. A further aim was to explore the question of whether terrorist groups in Africa simply follow the technological trends in their environment or are applying web technologies in their own unique ways.

This article will be of use to PVE researchers and scholars interested in terrorist groups’ use of web technologies and particularly those focused on Sub Saharan Africa. The authors argue that in terms of a regional case study, Sub Saharan Africa represents a unique opportunity for terrorist informatics researchers as the continent is in the unique position, having only experienced a recent full connection to the fibre optic backbone of the Internet in 2012. There is also a perceived rise in terrorism on the continent. The authors argue that this combination of factors presents an opportunity to study the relationship between terrorism and the Internet without the overwhelming volumes of data associated with Western countries.

Stewart Bertram and Keith Ellison

February 2014