Trends in Terrorist Propaganda
Berto Jongman

Dutch Ministry of Defense


Without communication there can be no terrorism. This was a conclusion drawn a quarter century ago and it still holds true. Without effective communications, a terrorist movement would be unable to recruit new members into its ranks, motivate and inspire existing members to carry on with the struggle despite formidable odds as well as expand the pool of active supports and passive sympathizers from the movement draws its sustenance. Bruce Hoffman recently indicated that the art of terrorist communication has now evolved to the point where terrorists can effortlessly and effectively control the communication of their ideology of hate, intolerance and violence: determining the content, context and medium over which their message is projected; and towards precisely the audience (or multiple audiences) they seek to reach. A decade ago there were about twelve terrorist group websites. Since then the number has increased to well over 7,000 such sites. Virtually every terrorist group in the world today has its own Internet website and, in many instances, maintain multiple sites in different languages with different messages tailored to specific audiences. The amount expanding amount of terrorist propaganda has been the subject of research by law enforcement and intelligence services. A small cottage industry of research institutions has developed which analyze the output of terrorist organizations. In the presentation the results will be shown of the work of number of these institutions (e.g. SITE Intelligence group, ICT’s Jihadi Website Monitoring Group). Their efforts offer important clues with respect to ongoing terrorist plans, emerging modus operandi, communication strategies of different terrorist organizations and increasing skills in exploiting the Internet for operational purposes.

Short bio

Albert J. Jongman (1955) majored in western sociology at the University of Groningen in 1981. During his studies he gained practical experience as a research assistant at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in Sweden. From 1982 to 1987 he worked as a researcher at the Polemological Institute of the University of Groningen where he dealt with several research topics including the quantitative study of war, political violence, armament and disarmament issues and human rights. In 1987 he moved to the University of Leiden where he acted as Data Manager of the Project on Interdisciplinary Research on the Root Causes of Gross Human Rights Violations (PIOOM). He also worked on several research projects, including the World Conflict and Human Rights Map, 20th Century Genocides and Monitoring Human Rights Violations. In 2002 he moved from academia to government. Since early 2002 he works as a senior terrorism analyst for the Dutch Ministry of Defense. His 'World Directory of Terrorist and other Organizations associated with Guerrilla Warfare, Political Violence and Protest,' was included in the award-winning 'Political Terrorism. A New Guide to Actors, Authors, Concepts, Data Bases, Theories, and Literature' (2nd edition, 1988) edited by Alex P. Schmid. During the 1990s he regularly contributed to the Dutch Yearbook on Peace and Security. Currently an update of Political Terrorism is being prepared under the title Handbook of Terrorism Research that will be published by Routledge in 2010. In his current function he participates in a number of Advanced Research Working Groups of NATO and in activities of the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism.