Thesis submitted for the degree:
D. Phil in Politics and International Relations
Declaration of Authorship
A thesis submitted by Lawrence Peter Ampofo who claims sole and original authorship, for the University of London Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
This thesis tests whether the availability of new technologies increases the capacities of terrorist and counter-terrorist agencies to achieve their communication objectives. It focuses on the ways narratives affected the behaviour of Spanish-language audiences through an analysis of policy documents, elite interviews, and internet research methods adapted by the author. The data illuminate shifting understandings of communities of policymakers, journalists, and publics during 2004 to 2011 and is the first such study undertaken in Spain. Five themes are examined: the relation of terrorism in Spain to immigration, the formation of narratives in relation to understandings of terrorism, terrorism and cybercrime within Spain, the nature of communities in relation to understandings of terrorism in Spain and online reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden. The hypothesis is derived from: the theses of Bobbitt (2008) and Barnett (2005) concerning technology’s role in the changing character of the state and terrorist organisations; terrorism studies literature concerning the role of technology in recruitment and communication; and public diplomacy studies suggesting political organisations can communicate effectively to publics through digital campaigns. The main findings are: (i) the availability of technologies has not brought success for government or terrorist organisations; (ii) government narratives were not considered persuasive by online users, refuting top-down communication models; (iii) online communities wish to engage and may contain key influencers to be conduits for government or terrorist narratives; (iv) terrorist organisations now have greater capacity to operationalise visibility and invisibility within their strategies; and (v) partly independent phenomena have been ‘commensurated’ into one ‘nexus’ of concern. The thesis considers how Web 3.0 is likely to bear upon these relationships, recommending that counter-terrorist practitioners conduct further internet research into the attitudes and behaviours of online users to explore ways they can be co-opted into future counter-terrorism strategies.
Table of Contents
Figures and Tables 6
List of Figures 6
List of Tables 8
Chapter One: The Socio-Technical Development of the Internet and the World Wide Web 11