Terrorism in the modern-day poses a systemic challenge to democracies. In reality, it has achieved a global scale, making it more risky and difficult to fight. Law enforcement and intelligence services all around the world are constantly advising people of potential terror threats in their big cities. Terrorism has become spontaneous and instantaneous, as well as a multinational challenge that affects many nations; it is also becoming deadly. The determination to ensure that there are no more terrorist attacks everywhere in the world has sparked technical advancement in a variety of directions. It is true that terrorists use technology as an instrument of their activities, but again, the technology itself can also be used as an essential tool to fight against terrorism. With the use of technology, one can effectively combat terrorism and terrorist attacks. It offers a possibility of tracking terrorist and their activities in addition to predicting possible future attacks, and it can help prevent or deter acts of terrorism. Therefore, with the use of technology, law and intelligence agencies can fight terrorism.
Further advances in technology have allowed terrorist organizations to plan and execute their terror attacks in a much organized and speedy manner. These advances have made it to be on the forefront of modern terrorism. Terrorist groups have always used technology to attack and threaten modern economies and national securities (Samuel and Osman 1089). It is imperative to note that emerging technology is accessible to both the terrorists and the law enforcers, and it brings the doubt on whether it will be possible to combat terrorism. Just like it plays a significant role in terrorism, technology has also been an integral part of efficiently combating modern terrorism. There are various technological innovations and advances; an example of such technological advancement is the Internet. Both terrorist and the counterterrorism and intelligence team extensively use the Internet. National Research Council notes that with enhanced technological advances, the world can counter terrorism (45).
Currently, the Internet has become a significant element of terrorism, whereby they spread propaganda, communicate, organize their terror activities, and even recruit new followers to join them. Terrorists use technology with great skills, as they can instantly reach large masses of people through different social media platforms (Taylor et al. 42). However, it is possible to turn it against them by using the same technologies to not only catch the terrorists, but also to stop their planned terror activities and warning the citizens about possible terror attacks. Through technology, one can search what the terrorists are planning and their targets and inform the people in future, and it will help prevent terrorist activities. Thus, incorporating technology in the form of decoding software that can capture the terrorist’s information can help the law enforcement authorities to curb terrorism.
The law enforcement and intelligence agencies can use technology to search for the terrorists’ activities and their pattern of communication and activities. If the counterterrorism team successfully does it, whereby their spot their trends, it will be easier to identify their future terrorist attacks and stop them. According to a study by Spitzberg and Hoobler, when the terrorist activities are followed closely with the use of technology, then it will be simpler to know the timing of their next violent attacks and stop them from happening (83). Therefore, with the utilization of technology on following up on the terrorist activities, their communication, and how often they spread their propaganda, especially on the social media, it is easier to stop future terrorism by ruining their plans to launch terror attacks. Most terrorists use the social media, and the same social media is a technological breakthrough for law enforcement agencies to fight crime. For example, several criminals, and terrorists are not exceptions always have a tendency of leaving behind some trails, especially on most social media sites without noticing it. Therefore, law enforcers can use the social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to look for trails and other essential clues left behind by terrorist and use them to prevent the terrorist attacks (Oh et al. 40). Moreover, they can also find information from reliable sources on the social media and employ it to combat terrorism across the globe.
In addition, through the Internet, it is possible to find their supporters as well as sponsors. Therefore, with the use of the modern technology, one can automatically track them and stop all their planned future violent activities by arresting them to face the law. In most cases, one finds that computer networks have been compromised through the means of cyber terrorism to obtain information to blackmail governments and cause destruction. Cyber terrorism is also used by terrorists to hack, scam, and phish information of their targets before they launch an attack (Spitzberg and Hoobler 78). Therefore, the same way these terrorists apply computer networks to gather information on their targets and gain funds, those fighting against terrorism can also use the same way to find information on these criminals, track them down, and limit terrorist attacks.
Apart from the use of the Internet, the mobile phone technology can be employed to fight terrorism. The mobile phone technology has made it easier to retrieve calls, emails, and even messages sent (Oh et al. 36). In addition, through mobile technology, law enforcers can track the owners of the phones used for terrorist activities. In the current world, everyone uses a mobile phone in communication and terrorists are not an exception. Therefore, following the benefits that come with mobile phones, especially the current smartphones, law enforcers and intelligence service can utilize them to trace any criminal or terrorist activities. It is true that even the terrorists themselves make use of the mobile technology in planning and perpetrating their violent activities. Therefore, if their GPS location could be traced, it can help the authorities in their investigations in terrorism and in stopping terrorist activities. With the use of the mobile technology, the authorities can track down terrorist activities or imminent acts of terrorism.
The mobile technology has different applications that can be used for several purposes. For instance, there are chatting applications like Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook just to mention but a few (Oh et al. 39). Most terrorist groups are commonly known to use these apps like Telegram to communicate to their members. If the authorities can effectively use the mobile technologies, then it will be easier to understand what the terrorists are planning and cut short their plans, thus combating terrorism. It, therefore, means that law enforcers ought to embrace and increase the use of mobile technology in their investigations, and it will help them to fight terrorism successfully.
Terrorists have technological prodigies who use espionage tools like encryption to avoid detection. According to Fink et al., groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS have experts who are online 24 hours online and offer support on how to hide personal details, encrypt communications, and use some social media platforms while avoiding surveillance. Nonetheless, techs and the counterterrorism teams can still use such channels to find information on their activities and use the same information to fight the increasing terror threats and activities across the globe. The intelligence team can also use such platforms to find their IP addresses and identify or instead locate their locations and bring them down. Terrorists will always use such channels to spread propaganda to vulnerable population; therefore, after finding out their plans and future activities, the channels should then be blocked to stop their activities (Reddick et al. 130). Thus, despite terrorists’ using technology to spread propaganda and recruit new members, the same technology can be utilized to identify their locations, find out more information on their upcoming activities; this information may be later used to bring them down.
Technology helps the law enforcement agents to always stay ahead of criminals by facilitating them to develop new tactics to prevent terrorism. With it, the law enforcers can use the emerging tech-oriented techniques to track down offenders and know what they are planning. It is evident that because of technology, both the terrorists and the law enforcers have employed new tactics to cover their tracks (Samuel and Osman 1091). On one hand, the law enforcers are coming up with new tech-oriented techniques to combat terrorism, and on the other hand, the terrorists are coming up with methods to hide their tracks and run away from the authorities. Nonetheless, if the law enforcers come up with the best technological techniques to fight terrorism, then they will finally combat terrorism.
Before technology, identifying terrorists and the vulnerable terrorist attack areas was an uphill task. It could take a lot of time even to know that there has been a terrorist attack. However, currently, with the emerging technology, it has become easy to identify terrorist prone spots through the mapping technology (Popp et al. 36). Through the crime mapping technology, intelligence and law enforcement agencies can be able to single out such geographical areas and track down terrorists before they launch their violent attacks. The crime mapping technology highlights the crime-prone areas, and it gives the law enforcers a better view on criminal activities, which thus helps in curbing terrorism. Therefore, the application of the crime mapping technology will help in the fight against terrorism.
Additionally, there is technology such as the geospatial intelligence, whereby most governments use UAVs and satellites to fly above the terrorist targeted areas to check on precisely what is happening on the ground. With geospatial intelligence, governments can fight terrorism. Terrorists always focus on specific targeted geographical regions or countries. Popp et al. note that with the use technology, the counterterrorism team can use geospatial intelligence to gain more knowledge on the situation on the ground (38). This way, they can collect geospatial data and later analyze it for any suspected terrorism, and if there is, they warn the people around the geographical area in addition to finding ways to stop it from occurring.
Moreover, there is the use of the Virtual Private Network technology. It is a technology that is utilized to conceal the identities of those giving information or speaking out on terrorism. The VPN helps secure the Internet connection by ensuring that data on a machine is encrypted and cannot be shared with third parties. According to Boyd, the virtual private networks technology can be used to get information from citizens on terrorism (7). The information about terror activities can be found from people, but most of them fear for their lives, because some governments are weak, as power is held by terrorist organizations. Therefore, in such cases, one finds that most citizens know about the terror attacks, but they cannot speak out, because they fear being victimized. However, with the use of technology such as the Virtual Private Networks, citizens can speak freely about what they know about terrorism and help prevent possible terror attacks.
Into the bargain, the increase in surveillance technology, whereby there are more advanced and high-quality cameras positioned at strategic places, can help curb and avert terrorism. With modern cameras installed everywhere, they can capture images and high-quality sound. Hence, it can assist in investigations or knowing if there are any plans for terrorist attacks (Bell and Congram 58). With the use of technology through surveillance systems such as cameras, it will highly help in fighting terrorism.
The art of preventing terrorist activities has become harder than ever. It is because technology is the problem and has the solution too. Technology has become a foundation of the modern society, whereby both the terrorist and anti-terrorists benefit from it (Bell and Congram 48). Terrorists use it to perpetrate their crimes through the Internet, which is a cheap and a robust platform to communicate, fundraise, train, and spread propaganda in addition to recruiting more followers. For instance, a group like ISIS has demonstrated a great mastery of the use of technology in their terrorist activities (National Research Council 67). Most countries, for example, the US have a high reliance on technology systems and networks, and it makes them more prone to cyber and terrorist attacks. Therefore, since technology such as the Internet has become a hub for terrorist activities, the same Internet can be used to fight terrorist activities around the world. With the development of new know-hows and software, the world can successfully combat modern terrorism.
In the fight against terror attacks, the reliance on human intelligence is significant. However, it is with the use of technology that law enforcement agencies and the intelligence service can detect, analyze, and effectively counter terrorism. The September 11 attacks caught the US unawares, and the most efficient way of countering terrorism is the use of technology, because these terrorists use the latter to perpetrate their terror attacks (King 173). Most terror groups are IT savvy; for this reason, since criminals are becoming smarter with technology, the same know-how should be used to track them and end their terror activities.
In combating terrorism, the world must be prepared for anything. It is evident that currently, various technologies are being harnessed to fight terrorism, but it has proven to be a hard duty for the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to deal with. Most of the tactics employed to combat terrorism are defensive, and one should note that defensive technology is not applicable at every likely target (Black 260; Samuel and Osman 1094). A government might spend billions of dollars securing the places they deem are prone to terrorism, and the terrorists decide to shift their attacks to some other areas; it thus means that there is no security.
Therefore, it critical for governments to find the right technology that can help mitigate the problem and stop being defensive; the challenge is that of terror threats and attacks. For instance, experts should discover technologies that can improve the intelligence gathering of information on terrorists and their activities and analyze it; it will help locate the suspected terrorist (Taylor et al. 102). In addition, after they have been chased down, the technology can then help the law enforcers to uncover their plots and stop them. Moreover, experts should find means that can foster communication without any hacking issues, and in so doing, there is no way terrorist will have access to vital information from the government that might lead to them launching an attack. Just as terrorists are utilizing technology in their dealing, governments can also do the same, but wisely, and outsmart them. Technology is a powerful tool that can combat terrorism, if new one can be launched.
In conclusion, fighting terrorism has become harder than ever, especially with the advancement in technology. Terrorism, counterterrorism, and technology coexist. The latter is a powerful tool that is being used by terrorists, and it is also the solution in the fight against terrorist activities. Technology has become a vital tool used by the terrorists in their activities. With technology such as the Internet, the terrorist can communicate, spread propaganda, fundraise, and even attract and recruit new followers. In fact, they have turned it into weapons of mass destruction. However, the same technology being used by the terrorist can be employed to fight terrorism activities across the globe. Technology can be effectively used to make terror investigations prompt and inexpensive. The chief ingredient to a reliable investigation is obtaining information, the right one. Therefore, the Internet through the social media and the mobile technology can be reliable sources of information that can assist in terror activities investigations. Additionally, the use of Virtual Private Network technology, crime mapping technology, geospatial intelligence, and surveillance can help increase security and to curb terrorism.
Terrorist activities are increasing over the years, and it means that the efforts to curb terrorism should be at advanced levels. According to the National Research Council, as the days go by, technology continues to pose new challenges to law enforcement and intelligence agencies as they strive to keep with lawbreakers who use technology to perpetrate their terrorist activities. It is technology that is used in terrorism, and at the same time, it is the same technology that is to be used to combat terrorism. Nonetheless, the application of technology by law enforcers in fighting terrorism can do more good than harm if adequately applied. Technology will always remain a critical tool in the fight against terror activities despite the many challenges faced. It is crucial for experts to focus their attention on coming up with an improved technology that can combat technology, and the technology should not be an easy one to be utilized by terrorists.
Bell, Peter, and Mitchell Congram. “Communication Interception Technology (CIT) and Its Use in the Fight against Transnational Organized Crime (Toc) In Australia: A Review Of the Literature.” International Journal of Social Science Research 2.1 (2014): 46-66.
Black, Jeremy. “Into the Future.” War and Technology. Indiana University Press, 2013.
Boyd, Kishana. The Effects of Network Security In Non-Censorship Countries Compared to Countries with Strong Censorship. Diss. Utica College, (2015):1-13.
Fink, Erica, Jose Pagliery, and Laurie Segall. “Technology and the Fight against Terrorism.” CNN, 24 Nov. 2015, http://money.cnn.com/2015/11/24/technology/targeting-terror-intelligence-isis/index.html. Accessed 8 Oct. 2017.
King, Peter T. “Remembering the Lessons of 9/11: Preserving Tools and Authorities in the Fight against Terrorism.” Journal of Legislation 41.2 (2014): 173-183.
National Research Council. Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. National Academies Press, 2002.
Oh, Onook, Manish Agrawal, and H. Raghav Rao. “Information Control and Terrorism: Tracking the Mumbai Terrorist Attack through Twitter.” Information Systems Frontiers 13.1 (2011): 33-43.
Popp, Robert, Thomas Armour, Ted Senator, and Kristen Numrych. “Countering Terrorism through Information Technology.” Communications of the ACM 47.3 (2004): 36-43.
Reddick, Christopher G., Akemi T. Chatfield, and Patricia A. Jaramillo. “Public Opinion on National Security Agency Surveillance Programs: A Multi-Method Approach.” Government Information Quarterly 32.2 (2015): 129-141.
Samuel, Kuboye O., and Wan R. S. Osman. “Cyber Terrorism Attack of the Contemporary Information Technology Age: Issues, Consequences and Panacea.” International Journal of Computer Science and Mobile Computing (IJCSMC) 3.5 (2014): 1082-1090.
Spitzberg, Brian H., and Gregory Hoobler. “Cyber Stalking and the Technologies of Interpersonal Terrorism.” New Media & Society 4.1 (2002): 71-92.
Taylor, Robert W., Eric J. Fritsch, and John Liederbach. Digital Crime and Digital Terrorism. Prentice Hall Press, 2014.