Why Terrorists Love Twitter. A Q&A with a leading scholar on terrorism and media

by Laura Ryan
June 2, 2014

“Try to think like a terrorist for a second. Would you like to get—free-of-charge—satellite services? Of course, you would,” says Gabriel Weimann. “Now think about Google Earth.”

Indeed, it was Google Earth that members of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba used to help plan the 2008 Mumbai terror spree that killed more than 150 people, says Weimann, a leading scholar of terrorism and media. The attackers used the satellite imagines to memorize landmarks, helping them to better coordinate and carry out the string of shootings and bombings.

Terrorist groups around the world have quickly learned how to manipulate the Web and social media, an invention of the West, against the West, and it is reshaping the war on terror.

Weimann, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and professor at Haifa University in Israel, has been studying the relationship between terrorism and mass media since the early days of the Internet and has just published a new report titled “New Terrorism and New Media.”

…..Weimann says that the same social-media tool could be a boon to the U.S. and other nations seeking to counter terrorists and their narrative. But thus far, he says, terrorists are doing a better job than governments at using the medium.


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