Aaron observes that there are three things involved with radicalization:
- Motivation (I’m willing to fight)
- Association (I want people to fight alongside, both to steel my resolve and to help me carry out attacks)
- Opportunity (I need places and means for carrying out an attack)
(Tim glosses these as Psychological, Social, and Organizational factors, which is helpful.)
Aaron goes on to say:
When we see so-called Internet jihadis who become active in real-world plots, they frequently come from the ranks of the forum activists, the guys who are more than just part of the Allahu Akbar chorus. It is through their online associations and the opportunities that the Internet provides that they are able to begin actually participating in the jihad.
- I agree that the Internet is a good tool for motivating people to fight. But they are being motivated elsewhere (e.g. video links posted to mainstream forums). By the time they join the Jihadi forums, they are already members of the Allah Akbar choir.
- The Jihadi forums are a terrible place to associate and find opportunities because no one trusts anyone else. Take, for example, Abu al-Haytham’s meeting with another forum member. A lot of distrust had to be overcome to make it happen. And face-to-face contact was a necessity.
- Many (most?) of those who get involved in real-world plots were already supporting or engaging in operations before they joined the forums.
I wonder: Are there examples of people who were motivated solely through the Internet and found associates and opportunities solely through the Internet? I know I’ve seen a few, but I couldn’t dig up any when asked recently. I even re-read Petter Nesser’s compendious survey of all Jihadi arrests and attacks in Europe since the 1994 (due out soon in SCT) and still no luck.
Secondly, if there are examples, are they representative or exceptional? None of these are rhetorical questions and I’m open to opining and anecdotal evidence.