Technology and Terrorism

The modern world contributes to the introduction of technological progress and agrees to the reality that terrorism has besotted many societies in the world. In fact, diverse issues have been raised concerning the hazardous contribution to technology and terrorism leaving the current society in a strain of searching for possible solutions to the problems. Despite technology contributing immensely to advancing the community, its negative impacts need to be accepted as well (Des, 2012 p. 85). Therefore, it would be advantageous for one to stick to its importance instead of using technology to harm society. For instance, media needs not become one of the essential instruments for the success of terrorism, instead; it will be beneficial if it is used as one of the crucial devices in eradicating terrorism globally. Terrorism is a threat to modern society; therefore, amicable measures need to be implemented to help eradicate the dreadfulness of terrorism (Muella, 2007 p. 35). Currently, technology is highly applied in advancing terrorism, and at the same time, it is also used in eradicating terrorism.

Since the nineteenth century, there have been a number of connections between technology and terrorism. The relationship between the two was evident during the era of French rebels when dynamite was used as a damaging tool. The role plaid by technology in the field of terrorism passed to the 21st century, and currently, it plays a crucial role in enhancing the achieving terrorists’ goals. For instance, terrorists use media extensively for expounding their interests all over the country or even the world. Terrorists believe in media (Vera, 1991 p. 33). In fact, the relationship between media and terrorism is symbiotic; both parties depend on each other, although media can still exist without the existence of terrorism. In addition, media rarely benefits from terrorism, but it is crucial for one to identify that media adores expounding its essence to the viewers through inoculating terrorist incidences.

In addition to the media having the responsibility of reporting the truth about terrorism to the public, it is also held responsible to the government for security matters. Its role is to ensure that national security is practiced in every state through encouraging nationalism. However, due to the existing terrorist-media relation, the media finds it hard to give full and fair information about the terrorists, because the access of information via interviews carried out on terrorists is highly limited; terrorists tend to be secretive and selective in what they air out to the public.

On the other hand, even though media aids in spreading the news about terrorists, to some extent it is viewed as the enemy to terrorists. This applies when the information does not reach the required individuals or when the information is distorted before reaching the intended persons. For instance, Western media was considered as the enemy to Al Qaeda, this was because, in addition to, giving biased reporting about Al Qaeda acts, they also underestimated terrorists’ motivation.

In addition to the internet providing mobility and worldwide access to a diversity of information, terrorists also use it significantly in expanding their territories. For instance, in 2005 Al Qaeda used a network of messengers to convey information via the internet to the televisions, an act that expanded their terrorist activities until 2006 when the U.S. managed to hack their secure network and killed some Al Qaeda members. In addition, the internet is the safe and immediate mode of conveying information, it grants terrorists a chance of conveying direct information to their supporters. Terrorists also use the internet to attract new members to their organizations leading to the advancement of terrorism.

Even then, media have been extensively manipulated by military actions against terrorism. With the advancement in technology, fighting methods have profoundly changed. In addition, the media has played a great role in reporting warfare issues. Technology has further facilitated the becoming of media as a significant and dynamic observer of military conflicts by informing the public (Hoffman, 1998 p. 45). Through it, the public shares their views concerning the effective methods the military could use in curbing terrorism.

From a terrorist point of view, the media is used as a “theatre”; the terrorist assaults are frequently cautiously coordinated to draw the attention of the press. The media reacts to terrorism with a lot of enthusiasm; they are fully acquainted with the state of things that satisfy their needs (Brad, 2008 p. 71). Thus, both media and terrorism mutually benefit from each other; for instance, terrorist movements such as al-Qaida use the media in their daily activities to enhance their success. The majority of the terrorists use the media in advancing their wars, for instance, leaders such as Al-Zawahiri used media as one of the battlefields. Giving influential media hype to terrorist acts, kidnapping in particular significantly raises the public pressure on those in authority leading to the government accepting terrorists’ demands. For example, the news broadcasted by American TV stations in 1985 concerning the American captives that were taken to Beirut, enabled the terrorists to achieve their goals. The terrorists were exceedingly delighted with the way family members of the captives expressed their worry. Although the result of the terrorist act was successful for both terrorists and captives, it seriously undermined the political authority of America (Schmid, 1989 p. 555).

On the other hand, news about kidnapping attracts the viewers’ attention significantly leading to the success of media companies. This is because in collecting information about captives and kidnapping incidents, the audience is glued to the television, thus the companies incur much profit. In his writing, Wilkinson (2002) believes that the hard work by editors in augmenting the ratings of their spring of news has considerably negative consequences on the running of a state.

The media has the responsibility of releasing information concerning any form of terrorism as early as possible. In addition, it is also the responsibility of the media to collect enough information before presenting it to the public. However, it is the media’s nature to over concentrate on matters that are of interest to them, an element that is also common to the terrorists (Iztok, 2008 p. 63). For example, after creating a story, both media and the terrorists want the story to stay in the headlines as long as possible. Moreover, the greater the horror of some incident, the longer the broadcasting about it will draw the viewers’ attention, an interest that also favors both media and terrorists.

Without media, terrorist attacks would have no significance, because terrorists like being aware of the magnitude of the negative effects they have caused, and the international reaction to the harm they have caused to society. If the media fails to participate in giving information on the effects caused by terrorists, the results of the terrorists’ actions will be in vain (Hoffman, 2006, p. 186). In their acts, terrorists are neither concerned with the number of people they have killed nor are they concerned greatly with the magnitude of destructions they have caused to society. As an alternative, they aim at altering the imagination of the living population. Terrorists like instilling panic in people, which cannot be realized by meager statements and threats. Most if not all wars are psychological. The media contribute immensely to the success of terrorists by instilling psychological torture in the public; media are the soul of terrorists (Ganor, 2002). Recent mass media are crucial elements of propaganda that diversify psychological war, hence, enabling terrorists to achieve their goals.

The propaganda war has the potential of becoming an extremely influential psychological bludgeon that can result in the increase of certain deeds. Therefore, terrorists require media propaganda to help them demonstrate and justify their actions. For instance, terrorists depend on propaganda to mobilize broad support for their existence among the general population, and internationally by emphasizing elemental themes such as the virtue of their existence and the predictability of their success. Terrorists also use propaganda to frustrate and interrupt the reaction of the government and security agencies. Through propaganda, the terrorists are able to mobilize and incite their supporters. They also advance their constituency of real and able supporters, and as a result, increase enrolment, raise additional funds and stir further attacks (Wilkinson, 2002 p. 192).

Robin Gerrits, in his writing, further expounds on the psychological relationship that exists between media and terrorism. In his view, the interests of terrorists lie in their ability to intimidate foes such as management, acquiring empathy, as well as generating fear and commotions. In his writing, Brandura expressed the essence of media to the terrorists, according to him, media is the equipment that enables the terrorists to achieve sympathy, moral rationalization and, at the same time, intimidate the civics (Bandura, 1988 p. 46). The media contributes to giving power to a terrorist; this is from its rapid spread of the terrorist organization’s motives. In addition, the media grants terrorists the opportunity of commanding not only respect but also empathy of the individuals they declare to attack. In addition to the media granting terrorist organizations the mandate of enjoying the quasi-lawful status, it also enables the terrorist to enjoy political status identical to those practiced by legitimate political organizations.

Terrorist organizations have a diversity of methods that they implore via media to achieve their goals. For example, in their habitual reappearance in the media, terrorists manage to expound their stands. Terrorists also manage to gain mass publicity through appearing in the most popular programs. Such media attention also contributes immensely to creating legitimacy in the eyes of terrorist followers and fans (Elson, 2007 p. 77) leading to its expansion. Through random appearances in TV programs, media ends up influencing the way the civic observes terrorism and worries that crops from it. Media significantly influences political decisions in responding to terrorism.

The current technologies aid small terrorist groups to use communication media as an element of connecting a diversity of individuals with the same goals, in that, the terrorists can manipulate media into satisfying their interests. Current media technology, such as communication satellites, has produced a remarkable effect on advancing the publicity ability of terrorism, granting it the source of life of publicity. Terrorists believe in mass media as being the only way of communicating with the people worldwide (Centre of Excellence, 2007 p. 87). For instance, media relies tremendously on the visuals it collects for a story, thus, the less astounding the visuals for a given story the less significant the story becomes to the viewers. Terrorists cautiously choose the places where to carry out their ill acts to provide the finest media coverage. An evident example of this element of terrorism is the attack in New York. In that attack, both the broadcasters and members of the public gathered a diversity of information. However, the lack of accountability by Al Qaeda over the incident portrayed a distressing picture of the victims, it depicted that there was no importance of the television coverage of the incident.

In Hoffman’s view, general media exposition on terrorism will aid in promoting the adverse civic view on terrorists and will have negative effects on society. First, expressing the negative effects of terrorism on a given state will decline movements and tourism turnover. Second, it will put the government under pressure resulting in making rapid wrong decisions. Therefore, alteration of the information by media has a negative impact both on the public and political organizations (David, 2004 p. 67).

Terrorists can use new techniques of conducting war, techniques that are adapted to the current media era. Just as other military organizations, terrorists have their own media gurus who carry out the role of manipulating the opinions of government elites, an act that results in miscommunication among the individuals involved in eradicating terrorism. Terrorists are also enlightened on the reality that communication has no borders due to modern technologies, and the idea can be spread very quickly via a single press broadcast (Wilson, 2006 p. 103). Just as a military attack, a single press release can result in chaos in a state. Terrorists also can act quickly with few people via communication media.

In conclusion, the media has contributed significantly to the success of terrorism. It provides them with an easy mode of communication. In addition to expressing their demands, media also grant the terrorists the opportunity to express their ill motives to the public, hence affecting the political stability of a given state. Via the advancement in technology, terrorists have managed to conquer the world through posting their acts directly to the televisions of the citizens diversely and globally. Terrorists have also used the media diversely to prevent themselves from tracking, hence leading to their advancement globally. Although the terrorists have explored the field of technology to satisfy their demands, the same technology can be used to eradicate the spreading of terrorism. This can be achieved by not granting them the opportunity of manipulating media for their interests. In addition, the military needs to implore technology in hacking the communication channels of the terrorists to reduce its spread.


Bandura, M 2006, Ink and Blood: The Common Interest Game between the Media and Terrorist, George Rutledge Ltd, New York.

Brad, A 2008, The Shift in Terrorist Information Operations Strategies: A Comparative Case Study ProQuest, Oklahoma City.

Centre of Excellence 2007, The Media: The Terrorists’ Battlefield, IOS Press, Kansas City.

David, C 2004, Technology and Terrorism, Transaction Publishers, New York.

Des, F, Daya, T 2012, Media and Terrorism: Global Perspectives, SAGE, New York.

Elson, B 2007, Regulating the Media: Terrorism and Political Violence, Cheltenham, UK.

Hoffman, R 1998, US Television Limits Terrorism Coverage, BBC centre Press, London.

Iztok, P 2008, The Fight Against Terrorism and Crisis Management in the Western Balkans, IOS Press, Kansas City.

Muella, F 2007, Censorship, Terrorism and the First and Amendment: In Search of Policy Guidelines, Putnam Publishers, New York.

Wilson, I 2006, Psychological Implications of Media-Covered Terrorism, Chicago University Press, Chicago.

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