Understanding Cyberspace as a Medium for Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization

Testimony House Subcommittee on Terrorism
Given the prominent role of the internet in propagating and perpetuating violent Islamist ideology, identifying methods to short-circuit internet radicalization has become an urgent goal for numerous countries, including Saudi Arabia.
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As a result of its speed, anonymity, and global reach, the Internet has become a powerful tool for Islamist extremists to raise funds, recruit new members, and spread their ideology. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Christopher Boucek highlighted an innovative Saudi model for governments looking to short-circuit Islamic extremism on the web.

The Saudi Solution:

  •  In response to the proliferation of websites distributing jihadist literature and propaganda, Saudi Arabia has quietly supported initiatives to combat Internet radicalization.

  • One of the most developed and successful programs is the Sakinah Campaign, which in addition to collecting, cataloguing, and analyzing extremist material found online, allows Islamic scholars to interact online with individuals looking for religious knowledge.

  • The program aims to steer such individuals away from extremist sources and so-called deviant interpretations of Islam, thereby reducing the chances that they will become radicalized.

  • While supported by the Saudi regime, the Sakinah Campaign is an independent, non-governmental organization. Its independence helps contribute to its relative legitimacy and results in more people being willing to engage in online dialogue.

U.S. Policy Recommendations:

  • The United States should quietly partner with NGOs and other governments to help establish national versions of the Sakinah Campaign throughout the Muslim world. Such campaigns would benefit significantly from American financial support and technical know-how.

  • At the same time, the United States should be careful to avoid any visible role. As the Saudi case has demonstrated, the legitimacy of such counter-radicalization programs hinges on their perceived independence from government—and particularly Western government—influence.
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About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.

Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2009/12/16/understanding-cyberspace-as-medium-for-radicalization-and-counter-radicalization/3s6c

In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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