The PANDORA research group gained interesting insights into the nexus of online and offline radicalization processes.
The PANDORA research group gained interesting insights into the nexus of online and offline radicalization processes. | Photo: Peakpx | Free use

The Great Divide? The Online-Offline Nexus and Insights from Research on the Far-Right in Germany

Research financed in the framework of the BMBF’s public security programme is still predominantly occupied with two issues: “online-radicalization” and “international terrorism”. The emphasis on „international terrorism“ still leads to an exclusive focus on “Islamist terrorism” and completely ignores the discussion of and a stronger need for research on right-wing terrorism. The emphasis on “online-radicalization” […]

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For security authorities, automated monitoring of social media is gaining increasing importance.
For security authorities, automated monitoring of social media is gaining increasing importance. | Photo: Dollar Gill on Unsplash

Early Warning? Opportunities and limitations of automated Internet monitoring

Policymakers have invested considerable effort and research funding to understand the role of the Internet in radicalisation processes and attack planning. This includes approaches to identify radicalisation or “weak signals” for terrorist intentions in online behaviour. As a result, security authorities have become increasingly interested in approaches to computer science including Artificial Intelligence. Nevertheless, what results have research efforts thus far yielded? Can computer science prove useful? And what are the possibilities and limitations of automated tools?

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To belong to a social group is attractive, esp. to young people
To belong to a social group is attractive, esp. to young people | Photo: markusspiske | Free use

Salafist Groups’ Use of Social Media and its Implications for Prevention

Researchers largely agree that radicalisation processes mostly include both real-world and virtual conditions. However, the interaction of both spheres has so far been understudied. Still, too little is known about how the two environments are mutually dependent and, accordingly, even less about how prevention and deradicalisation approaches can cover both spheres. In the previous article, Manjana Sold highlighted that while studying social media profiles, linkages to the real world are observable. This blog argues that this also occurs the other way around: Based on results from in-depth case studies, the article shows how radical Salafist groups in Germany use the benefits of social media to attract new members and facilitate the maintenance of the group. From these findings, possible starting points for prevention and deradicalisation work will be derived, which, if possible, cover both spheres of life.

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It is not easy to tell where offline ends and online begins
It is not easy to tell where offline ends and online begins | Photo: widenka | Free use

The Amalgamation of Virtuality and Reality in Radicalisation Processes

Virtuality has long since become an integral part of the world we live in today. It is thus not surprising that the virtual world is also used by those already radicalised and those who are in the midst of a radicalisation process. Accordingly, recent years have seen an increase in research that is particularly interested in the online component of radicalisation processes. Although the majority of researchers agree that there is no pure online radicalisation and that real-world contacts are always an important part of the process, research often continues to be one-sided. This posts calls for a change of focus by considering both spheres as equal components to the process and by examining their interactions. Findings from online case studies stemming from social media profiles of Salafist and right-wing individuals illustrate the amalgamation of online and offline radicalisation.

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Der deutsche Außenminister Heiko Maas
Der deutsche Außenminister Heiko Maas | Photo: eu2017ee | CC BY 2.0

Wieso Syrien, der Brexit und die USA gerade nur Randthemen sind

Eine außenpolitische Frage spaltet Berlin: Soll sich Deutschland an einem Luftangriff auf Anlagen der syrischen Armee beteiligen, falls diese bei der anstehenden Entscheidungsschlacht um Idlib erneut Giftgas einsetzt? Dabei scheint derzeit sonst für außenpolitische Debatten in Deutschland kaum Platz zu sein. Das zeigt auch eine Auswertung der öffentlich-rechtlichen Sommerinterviews mit Blick auf die Außen-, Verteidigungs- und Europapolitik.

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