The popular perception that the widespread use of the internet catalyses extremists and terrorists to become radicalised is often the connotation that is associated when one mentions radicalisation. Yet, Charlie Edwards and Luke Gribbons’ article Pathways to Violent Extremism in the Digital Era, The RUSI Journal, 2013 explores the multiple ways in which radicalised individuals, used as research, have used the internet during the process of radicalisation. Nonetheless, both authors highlight how the Internet has transcended contextual barriers and continues to become a communication medium that allows the radicalisation process to happen. The focal argument both authors instil through their article is that wider literature, “policymakers and researchers need to focus on understanding not merely the content available online, but how the content is used in the process of radicalisation.” (Edwards and Gribbon, 2013, 40).
The study conducted highlights five individuals randomly selected out of fifteen cases in which the Internet has played a part in the radicalisation process. Albeit, the small sample of individuals who were declared vulnerable to radicalisation were specifically chosen, as this group consisted of individuals who either target individuals to become radicalised through propaganda or were the one’s who believed the propaganda. However, both authors could have extended their research and highlighted the different external factors that made these individuals turn to the internet for a sense of distorted comfort. The notion of online perception of invincibility and invisibility in conjunction with the new generation of radicalised individuals is becoming increasingly covert, as the use of private chat rooms as opposed to public spaces such as Mosques, clearly depicts societal trends in the digital era. This is clearly viewed through multiple attacks, significantly the Tsarnaev brothers who committed the Boston bombings 2013, in which offenders were radicalised through online propaganda, and were nearly missed, “as the traditional identification of self-radicalised terrorists did not fit the brother’s profile.” (Bloom, 2018)
With the rise of social networking, Edwards and Gribbon highlight and reiterate the central focus point of the ease in which violent extremism and radicalisation are present throughout the participants which they conducted research on. All five participants stated that the “internet was a plethora of tools, that allowed for their message to be received if they were recruiters, or consequently to be radicalised…the Internet provided a ready-made audience” (Edwards and Gribbon, 2013, 44). One interesting omission is that the authors highlight the lack of governmental bodies and academia, in which these groups focus “on the content (of the Internet and radicalisation), rather than a person’s individual experience online” (Edwards and Gribbon, 2013, 47). The authors continuously reiterate that there is a lack in the academic community, yet the article that has been constructed with only five individuals who were either radicalised or were the ones part of the radicalisation process to others. Consequently, the authors should have made a clearer representation of who was radicalised and how they spent their time on the internet in a more direct and concise way, as opposed to jumping back and forth between individuals and complicating information on who was using radicalisation techniques through the internet and who was being radicalised on the internet.
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