Swansea University symposium explores concerns about the use of the internet by terrorists

With the rapid growth in online activity concerns have arisen about the use of the internet by terrorists, including for radicalisation, propaganda, training, finance and cyberattack.

Swansea University recently played host to a 2 day symposium which explored “ Terrorists’ Use of the Internet”. Experts from across the world came together to discuss this topical subject, which was hosted by the College of Law, Swansea University.   

The event brought together researchers from a variety of disciplines to explore a number of pressing issues, including:  

·         How terrorist groups use social media, including the use of Twitter by al-Shabaab during the Westgate attack in Nairobi

·         The use of the Internet for radicalisation and recruitment, including examination of terroristic narratives online and strategies for countering these

·         The possibility of terrorists launching cyberattacks against essential services and critical infrastructure, and how this has been presented in political discourse

·         States’ use of cyber surveillance and dataveillance, and the impact of these on human rights and privacy

·         Cooperation between the private and public sectors and strategies for enhancing this partnership.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the US Office for Naval Research Global and Curtin University, Australia. Dr Anne Aly of Curtin University attended the symposium and presented her work on terroristic and counter narratives. She said:

" The symposium highlighted the level of diverse and international interest in the complex relationship between terrorism and technology. The range of speakers and topics spanned the spectrum of hard and soft approaches to this phenomenon from how terrorists utilise the internet to spread propaganda to questions about the legality of data collection and surveillance. Importantly it showcased the interconnectedness of research in this area around the globe with speakers coming not just from within Europe and the United Kingdom, but also as far as Canada and Australia".

The event was also attended by Distinguished Research Professor Martin Rudner and Senior Fellow Angela Gendron, both from Carleton University, Canada. They commented:

"The symposium was a landmark event of global significance in the analysis of terrorists' use of the Internet. Participants included pre-eminent academics, experts from government, law-enforcement, research institutes and private sector coming from across the UK, Australasia, Europe and North America to report on research findings and policy developments.  The symposium highlighted Swansea University's leadership role in promoting knowledge-building and transnational information-sharing pertaining to issues of cyberterrorism, radicalisation, critical infrastructure security and public safety". 

Picture: Group picture of the symposium speakers.

Terrorism Symposium






Speakers at the symposium, which was held on 5th and 6th June at the College of Law, Swansea University, included:

  • Dr Anne Aly (Curtin University, Australia)
  • Clovis Meath Baker (Royal United Services Institute, UK)
  • Professor Karine Bannelier (University of Grenoble, France)
  • Sergei Boeke (Leiden University, Netherlands)
  • Dr Madeline Carr (Aberystwyth University, UK)
  • Professor Thomas Chen (City University, UK)
  • Dr Maura Conway (Dublin City University, Ireland)
  • Angela Gendron (Carleton University, Canada)
  • Dr Stuart Macdonald (Swansea University)
  • David Mair (Swansea University)
  • Lella Nouri (Swansea University)
  • Professor Martin Rudner (Carleton University, Canada)
  • Dr Inge Marie Sunde (Norwegian Police University College)
  • Ünal Tatar (Turkish National Cyber Security Institute)
  • Andrew Whiting (Swansea University)

The Cyberterrorism Project team will shortly be publishing a full report on the symposium and making videos of several of the presentations available online. The report and videos will be available from the project website www.cyberterrorism-project.org. Anyone interested in the project can also follow it on Twitter @CTP_Swansea or email ctproject@swansea.ac.uk.