Terror in Cyberspace and the Myth of the “Lone Wolf”

July 30 2015

Gabriel Weimann notes some of the ways the Internet is changing terrorism—among them, the role of the so-called “lone wolf”:

In the last few years, no terrorist attacks in the West were conducted, as 9/11 was, by a large group of . . . people. They are conducted instead by individuals acting alone. . . . [These attacks] appeared to have been undertaken by operators who had not been to a training camp and were not part of a terrorist group. However, as in nature, lone wolves do not survive. . . . Part of my research has focused on tracking lone wolves online and we found that all the attackers had a virtual pack behind them, one that we could track and identify. We could see their emails, the websites, the videos they downloaded or uploaded, their postings on Facebook and their tweets—we could see just about everything. All were radicalized, recruited, instructed, trained—and sometimes the attacks were even launched—online. And some terror attacks have been prevented because counter-terrorism agencies monitored the Internet. . . . [I]f there is a virtual pack, and you know how to follow the tracks, it is still possible to interdict the terrorists.

Read more at Fathom

More about: 9/11, Cyberwarfare, Internet, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount