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Terrorism And Mass Media

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1626 words Published: 16th May 2017

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The United States of America law defines terrorism as “predominated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents” (U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para 2656f (d). Hoffman has defined a terrorist act as an act of violence vested upon a given people so as to attract the attention of the opponents and the general public which is followed by communication of a message from the terrorists (Hoffman 2003, p. 118). A terrorist Group on the other hand is a group of people which indulges in international terrorism. On the other hand mass media can be defined as any form of communication that is reaching a large and heterogeneous audiences, it may include the use of Television, Radio, the internet, or written literature such as books, flayers, newspapers, periodicals and magazines. [1] The terrorist groups have employed the use of mass media as one of their most effective approaches to scaring the citizens to comply with the terrorist demands; U.S citizens have also not been spared.

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Among the most renowned terrorist groups of the world is the Al Qaeda [2] . The U.S States department considers the Al Qaeda a leading terrorist group that has been very active in the last five years. The group which was started by Osama bin Laden [3] has been operational from late 1980’s. The group aims a establishing a pan-caliphate in the entire world through working with allies Islamic extremist groups in the endeavor to overthrow the non Islamic regimes in the west as well as eliminating non-Muslims in Islamic states (Hellman 2010, para. 3).

The new archetype of terrorism is partly an outcome of a sudden development in information technology, particularly evident in the fact that terrorist groups have recognized the value mass media has on the execution of their aims. It has been noted that between mass media and terrorism there is a very interactive or symbiotic relationship; this is because media industry’s patterns and trends for media contents making head towards preference of impression seeking contents, while terrorist organizations can, owing to their actions, make sure that they get the maximum attention of the media. In so doing, terrorist organizations such as the Al Qaeda are constantly trying to maneuver and exploit free media for their own use. Yes we may conclude that it’s the mass media that provide global reach to terrorist groups since it influences the manner in which the public perceives terrorism and hazards that arise from it, it influences political verdicts used to act in response to terrorism, but also the dealings formed through countrywide and international politics. Nevertheless, media does not have to turn out to be an instrument of terrorism as Al Qaeda has been using the media. Through a considerate approach the media can be used as a kind of weapon which can then be used as an imperative device in overpowering terrorists, and the constructive benefits certainly exceed adverse consequences that results from irresponsible actions by a part of media companies and journalists (PereÅ¡in 2007 p. 1-3).

Despite the massive resources that the U.S government has employed in attempt to combat terrorism after the September 11th attack [4] , the primary terrorist target; Al Qaeda has mutated becoming more dangerous. Al Qaeda today has ceased to be perceived as an organization or a net work of networks, but by leveraging new technological and information and communication approaches Al Qaeda has been transformed by its stakeholders to a social movement which makes its virulent ideologies accessible to the entire world through the internet (Brachman, 2006 p. 149-151).

The Al Qaeda has been very effective in the use of the internet to threaten the citizens of the United States, the employ very high technologies to track the citizens’ personal information. The group uses this information to siphon money from the subject. Combating of the internal working of the groups becomes even more complex for the victims are threatened not to betray the subject to the authorities otherwise they will be in for trouble (Brachman 2006, 149-151). The Al Qaeda uses the internet in dissemination of propaganda, training materials and educating its members. They also identify information of the opposition groups such as the government and exploit it for their own benefit.

Today every terrorism activity is given the first priority over the media coverage. If the Al Qaeda sends a message either by video tape, internet, TV or radios people will not have peace until they get to know ‘what are the demands this time around’ and where is the terrorist’s target? (Soriano 2008, p. 1-20). The use of the media by terrorist group has been successful in manipulating the activities of the citizens. No one is willing to place his/her life at stake hoping that the information was just but a threat, the citizens are not willing to jeopardize their lives in the hope that the government will take care of the situation. After the various threats to the U.S government and the fateful hit of 11th September 2001 not many citizens will bet their lives on the government’s protection.

The news coverage by the media on many events takes just some key events hence people are never fully informed of what takes place but when it comes to a terrorism attack, most Medias will alter the program for the day so that a thorough coverage of the occurrence may be done. The Al Qaeda group uses this understanding to ensure that the citizenly absorbs the power of the groups. The personification role of the media makes such terror groups to be very successful in their endeavor to make their subject to fear them. Personification makes the news watchers and listeners to become more personally involved even in situations where they are buying into a cliché. The terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda perceives the media as an important tool of furthering their message hence a friend but also as an enemy if the media fails to do so or distorts the message (Soriano 2008, p. 1-20).

The Americans conception of the terror war generally perceives the battle of ideas as a confrontation between the Al Qaeda and the United States. In fact the United States is relatively marginal and seen to be self defeating player in the actual ideological struggle among the Muslims and the Arabs. The struggle by the Americans to overcome those activities of Al Qaeda is seen to enforce the Islamic agenda of portraying the Islamic religion as under siege (Lynch 2006, p. 1).

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The government’s response to the media effort of Al Qaeda has been evolving with the evolution of home grown terrorism. The government has employed coordinated and comprehensive tactical communication and outreach efforts. The government has been alert on all the information delivered through the Aljazeera [5] and other Arabic media channels to ensure that the information is contained. Though to some extent those medias have been successful in disseminating their information creating fear, the government has most of the time been successful in convincing the people that the threats are not valid assuring them that the mechanisms of overcoming terrorist attacks are sound. The government has been keen to control the information from Al Qaeda disseminated to the general public to keep people from unnecessary worries (Leslie 2008, p. 1).

The government has managed to intercept many internet threats to individuals, groups and the general public through its vast developed technology. The government has not been very effective in its protection role. Robert Gates observed that the Al Qaeda surpasses the US government in the use of communication since the Al Qaeda manages to air all they have to their subject and victims while US government fails in this duty (Leslie 2008, p. 1).


The information revolution reached its crest in the last centuries 2nd half. It exerted influence in all the spheres of life in the global society hence bringing a vast transformation. This opened the societies access to information form all aver the world. Terrorism found an opportunity to expand its impacts with the information and technology expansion. The mass media has allowed the terrorist activities to gain momentum. Terrorists’ activities revolve around the use of violent activities to attract attention; after the attention is obtained the mass media provides a very opportune platform for the terrorists to air their views to the target group.

The Al Qaeda has used this tool to reach out to the citizenly and hurt the government. The United States of America’s government has been on toes especially from September 11th attack to provide optimum security to the citizens. Threat Information that is aired from Arabic Medias is taken care of before it causes anxiety to the general public. The government has also been keen to uncover all the illegal Medias that are used as tools for the terror groups (PereÅ¡in 2007, p. 1-7).


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