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 Discussion Questions: How do terrorist organizations use technology today? Offer an example of how technology has evolved as it relates to terrorism. 


1.  The primary evolution of terrorist usage of technology is in the cyber world. Cyber warfare and hacking attacks receive the largest amount of publicity but they are not the primary threat or even the primary usage of cyberspace by terrorist organizations. The primary threat is a combination of the online radicalization of a significant number of homegrown extremists combined with old fashioned, tried and tested terrorist procedures, like homemade explosives. To demonstrate the significance of online radicalization versus cyberwarfare, compare the 2021 hacking attack on the American gasoline delivery system with the Fort Hood attack by Major Hasan. The interruption of the American fuel system was a massive inconvenience for most Americans, it caused spikes in fuel costs across the county, and it caused interruptions in the basic logistical processes that Americans rely on for things such as food. With all the inconveniences caused by this cyber attack, I could not identify a single death that occurred due to the hack. Cyber attacks on higher echelon systems, such as DoD, the intelligence community, or DoS could lead to more dangerous outcomes, but as of today no terrorist organization has advanced to the point of a significant threat to these systems.

On the opposite side of the comparison, online radicalization has resulted in the significant loss of human life. Major Hasan was partially radicalized online and conducted conversations with known Islamic extremists over the internet. His attack resulted in the death of 13 Americans. Social media is the most dangerous tool that extremist organizations possess. These systems give violent extremists the ability to reach out and corrupt a limitless number of potential recruits. All the organization needs to do to conduct a successful attack is to convince one American to support their cause and that person can use an old fashioned method of violence, like small arms fire, to conduct a highly successful attack in the organization’s name.

2.  For this discussion I will be analyzing a few types of technology that terrorist organizations have employed today and how this technology has evolved in the realm of terrorist attacks. For starters it can be said that many of the means that are used by terrorist organizations to carry out an attack are very crude and involve very little technology (Van Der Veer, n.d.). The use of bombs and knives are nothing new and require very little technology. By limiting the technological control on terrorist attacks it enables the organizations to keep the budget low but also limit detection in order to prevent intervention by authorities (Van Der Veer, n.d.). Now with that being said some of these very simple and crude forms of attacking have been aided by technology recently through the means of the internet and 3D printing (Van Der Veer, n.d.). The use of internet has enabled terrorist organizations to increase their following and organization through propaganda but also through recruitment and ease of communication. Many of these terrorist attacks will also reach a larger audience through the internet and result in a larger state of fear and desired effect by the terrorist organizations. A second way that terrorists have increased there means of technology with attacks is through 3D printing. Rather than having to acquire a gun, knife, or special component for a bomb the use of 3D printing has enabled terrorists to produce the very object they need for little to no money (Van Der Veer, n.d.). Additionally, 3D printing can enable certain objects to be more difficult to detect given that they may been constructed out of a nonmetallic material. Overall, the use of simplistic methods and communication are still a major factor with terrorist attacks and the use of technology is still very limited (Van Der Veer, n.d.). 

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