Modern Terrorism is synonymous with the use of media and its ability to magnify their cause. Social media’s global platform has provoked and enabled terrorism, prompting the question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”.
The reign of modern terrorism has by and large exploited media for funding, recruitment, and exposure. Before new media, terrorisms impact was shouldered by only its immediate victims; now terror and its message has a global audience. Terrorist’s exploit this to their advantage, Bryan Burrough’s defining bombs planted by The Weather Underground, as “exploding press releases”.
The infamous Munich Massacre, arguably caused the emergence of the “theatre” of terrorism. Broadcasted to 900 million, the Munich Olympic Games, an internationally publicized event would be the perfect stage to perform. The Black September Organization took advantage of this attention, killing 11 hostages on the Israel Olympic Team. After Munich, terrorists began measuring success by the amount of attention it garnered.
“One may go as far to say they (Al Qaeda) carried out many of their attacks for the express purpose of generating online content.” – Washington Post Columnist, Max Boot
Modern islamic terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Isis, and Hezbollah, have been extremely successful in garnering national attention through media. These groups and other inspired movements have grown their online presence, with thousands of devoted websites. These websites are an effective channels for recruitment, but also large scale havoc. In recent years, ISIS has been known to release gruesome beheading videos, generally targeting the western world.
Communication is central to the act of terrorism. As Bruce Hoffman argues, “only by spreading the terror and outrage to a much larger audience can the terrorists gain the maximum potential leverage that they need to effect fundamental political change”. Meaning that without the media’s ability to globally circulate information and events, terrorisms impact would be microscopic in comparison.