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Domestic Terrorism: Cyberterrorism

The student is required to cover the required readings and apply the information provided combined with

the student�s research to answer the following questions:

  1. Explain the advent of Cyberterrorism? What is it? How has it been combated since September 2001?
    What are the current policies? And, what is being done at a national and international level to combat it?
  2. Review McNeal, G. S. (2008) Cyber Embargo: Countering the Internet Jihad. Explain the interface of
    domestic and international terrorism through the Internet Jihad, its potential impact on domestic security
    (vis-a-vis the controversy over surveillance within the Patriot Act), and why this is domestic terrorism.

The following items will be assessed in particular:

  1. Your ability to apply your understanding past modules into critical thinking concerning Cyberterrorism.
  2. Your ability to understand past domestic and international (domestic in their countries) terror groups

and relate current capabilities to combat their tactics, vision and goals.


  1. In-text references to the modular background readings (APA formatting recommended) and a
    reference page. Outside background reading sources encouraged and expected.

Domestic Terrorism: Cyberterrorism

Cyberterrorism is the act of using computers as weapons or as targets by the politically
motivated sub-national or international groups, who end up threatening and causing fear and
violence among the people so as to influence them or make the government change its current
policies (Arquilla, 2013).

Advent of Cyberterrorism

The public interest in cyberterrorism began in the late 1980’s (Arquilla, 2013). The fear
about the millennium bug finely tuned in the year 2000. This is when the potential cyber terrorist
attacks also increased. The millennium bug was however not a terrorist attack or a plot against
the United States. Instead, it acted as a catalyst to spark the fears of a large-scale devastating
cyber attack. On September 11, 2001 there was a high profile terrorist attack in the United States.
The states ensuing war on terror led to further media coverage of the possible threats of
cyberterrorism in the following years.

How Cyberterrorism has been Combated

Since September 2001, the mainstream media coverage discusses often any possibility of
a large attack making good use of the networked computers to damage dangerous infrastructures
with the purpose of putting the lives of people in jeopardy or causing distraction on a national

scale. Since 2002, security improved following the private sector sharing information with the
government regarding the terrorist’s attacks in their private companies. There was an
establishment of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which attempted to improve the
sharing of information (Ferraro, 2014).

Current Policies Regarding Cyberterrorism

Policy makers that face the assessment and targeting of the future cyber threats should
address the current and key issues from the multiple perspectives. The policy dimensions of the
cyberterrorism include the possibility to discourage other people from resorting to it.
Preparedness and prevention is another aspect whereby the sharing of information and
establishment of good practices should be of primary importance. This involves the partnerships
between the public and the private sectors. At the same time, threats should be detected and
responded to via an alert system. This would dramatically increase the timely targeting of
attacks. There should also be contigent plans and disaster recoveries in order to mitigate the
attacks. Lastly, there should also be a placement of international cooperation and the
establishment of active defenses (McCrisken, 2011).

National and International Level to Combat Cyberterrorism

The America’s National Strategy for combating terrorism recognizes that they are at war
and that it is their solemn obligation to protect and defend their homeland and the American
people. The National Strategy also recognizes that the war on terror is different kind of war since
it is both a battle of arms and ideas. They do not only fight the terrorists on the battlefield but
also promote freedom and the dignity of the people as an alternative to the terrorists’ wicked
vision of oppression and totalitarian rule. Their paradigm to combat terrorism involves the

application of all elements of the national power and influence. They do not only employ the
military power but also use the diplomatic, intelligence, financial and law enforcement activities
for the homeland protection. They also extend their defenses, disrupt the operations of terrorists
and deny their enemies what they need in their operation and to survive.

Interface of Domestic and International Terrorism through the Internet Jihad
According to the article, Cyber Embargo, terrorists are occupied in an online jihad. This
is characterized by the use of the internet in fundraising, distribution of messages and directives,
recruitment and proselytization. It is, however, possible to limit the terrorists’ websites to a
particular region, then a modification of current laws can allow the cyber embargo on the
jihadists’ websites and their group. Together with the diplomatic cooperation, they are able to
curb the impact of the jihadist websites while at the same time increasing the governments’
ability to monitor those websites and shut them down when necessary (McNeal, 2007).

Potential Impact on Domestic Security

Since the internet can be accessed very easily, the number of potential recruits by the
terrorists has risen. Websites have provided an instant connection between the terrorists’
recruiters and the most interested sympathizers. Terrorists can then broadcast strong messages to
a large audience of viewers. Apart from that, they can use browsers to check language settings
and direct viewers to the required site which is customized for language and culture.

Why it is categorized as Domestic Terrorism

Cyber jihad, unlike cyberterrorism, is the information presented on behalf of the terrorist
organizations. It can also be used on several activities that support war directly. For example, an

expert in cyberterrorism called Joseph Shahda explains that ‘media jihad,’ which is the internet is
as important as the battlefield of jihad. Through the internet, terrorist groups set up centers for
operation, raise money, spread propaganda and at the same time communicate with ideologies. It
provides an inexpensive recruiting tool for the terrorists to win their supporters and members
from all over the world.


Arquilla, J. (2013). Twenty years of cyberwar. Journal Of Military Ethics, 12(1), 80-87.
Ferraro, M. F. (2014). “Groundbreaking” or broken? an analysis of sec cybersecurity disclosure
guidance, its effectiveness, and implications. Albany Law Review, 77(2), 297-347.
McCrisken, T. (2011). Ten years on: Obama’s war on terrorism in rhetoric and practice.
International Affairs, 87(4), 781-801.
McNeal, G. S. (2007). Cyber embargo: countering the internet Jihad. (German). Case Western
Reserve Journal Of International Law, 39(3), 789-826.

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