Bytes not waves: information communication technologies, global jihadism and counterterrorism

Patrick Bury, Daniela Richterova, Michael Chertoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Rapoport's conceptualization of the last, religious wave of four global waves remains highly influential. But it, and other typologies, have placed too little emphasis on the influence of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the evolution of global jihadist activities. This article makes two new contributions by developing both a new ICT-based typology for understanding jihadist evolutions, and by focusing on successful attacks. Our central argument is that ICTs’ impact on global jihadism has facilitated dramatic transformations of its strategy, organization and tactics since the 1990s, and that these can be understood as four overlapping iterations. ‘Jihadism 1.0’ describes the hierarchical, top-down directed and overseas financed and trained terrorist organizations that conducted iconic attacks at the turn of the millennium. Jihadism has since evolved into ‘Jihadism 2.0’ and then ‘Jihadism 3.0’. Jihadism 2.0 recognizes that a number of smaller, coordinated attacks can have a global impact. Jihadism 3.0 is inspired terrorism that has no links to the central terror organization, utilizing individuals and crude tactics. Finally, jihadism is evolving toward ‘Jihadism 4.0’, or cyberterrorism. We argue this typology provides a useful basis for scholars and practitioners to conceptualize the ICT dynamics influencing global jihadism, and these may be applicable to other global terrorists. The conclusion analyses how counter-terrorism services can respond to these evolutions and charts areas for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1325
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


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