The purpose of this report is to equip policy makers with a better understanding of how the Internet facilitates violent radicalization.
The Internet has revolutionized the way all of us communicate and do business. Its benefits to people everywhere have been enormous and will continue to drive progress in practically every area of life. At the same time, it should be recognized that, while being a force for good, the Internet has also come to play an important—and, in many ways, unique—role in radicalizing homegrown and domestic terrorists. Supporters of Al Qaeda, Sovereign Citizens, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, environmental and animal liberationists, and other violent extremist groups all have embraced the Internet with great enthusiasm and vigor. They are using it as a platform to spread their ideas, connect with each other, make new recruits, and incite illegal and violent actions.
This trend will likely continue and future terrorist attacks against the United States and its interests will involve individuals who have been radicalized—at least in part—on the Internet. As a result, countering online radicalization should continue to be a major priority for the government and its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts.
The purpose of this report is to equip policy makers with a better understanding of how the Internet facilitates radicalization, in particular within the United States; an appreciation of the dilemmas and trade-offs that are involved in countering online radicalization within the United States; and ideas and best practices for making the emerging approach and strategy richer and more effective.