Examining the dissemination of online terrorist magazines

The aim of this project is to develop techniques for use by law enforcement to identify, in real time, those Twitter accounts which are proving most influential in disseminating online terrorist magazines. The project addresses the themes of the CHERISH- DE Centre in four respects:
  • Safety and security: to increase understanding of the convergence of international terrorism and cyberspace.
  • Promoting interdisciplinarity: by promoting collaboration between computer science and social science;
  • Commitment to research impact and engagement with non-academic stakeholders;
  • Focusing on the human condition, by seeking to safeguard those who might be vulnerable to online radicalisation.
Several terrorist groups publish online magazines. These have influenced numerous individuals, some of whom have used bomb-making instructions from within their pages to carry out attacks. The research will utilize a bespoke platform (SENTINEL), built specifically for this type of research by the Universities Police Science Institute (Cardiff University). The project will deepen understanding of the processes by which new issues are released, disseminated and spread on social media. The first outcome of this project will be the development of a new digital influence analysis software called OPTIMAL in order to identify the most influential disseminator accounts in real time. In addition, the project’s findings will be presented to military, government and law enforcement personnel from different countries, an article presenting the findings will be submitted to a terrorism studies journal and the work will be promoted to the wider community via media appearances and events. The total work plan will take over six months and the total project cost will be £3,486.76