The internet clearly matters to terrorists, but online content by itself rarely causes people to carry out terrorist attacks. Responses should therefore not be limited to the mass removal of terrorist content from online platforms.
Notwithstanding inherent differences between the counterterrorist financing regime and the regulatory regime governing communication service providers, there are clear benefits in taking lessons learnt from longstanding efforts on terrorist financing into account when developing a response to the online terrorist threat.
A week after the atrocity in Manchester, it is now possible to draw some preliminary conclusions: there clearly was a breakdown in the intelligence flow that led to suicide bomber Salman Abedi slipping through the net; there are enduring questions about the UK’s Prevent anti-terrorism strategy; and, finally, there are the weaknesses of ‘soft targets’ that such an attack invariably expose.
The investigation into the 3 April terrorist attack on the St Petersburg metro has focused on a man of Central Asian origin with possible ties to Syrian rebel groups. The attack raises concerns about the threat posed both by Daesh and extremists within Russia’s sizeable Central Asian community.
As the battle for Mosul rages on and Daesh is put under increasing pressure in other parts of Iraq and Syria, how will the threat from the group evolve? Will Daesh end up following the path of Al-Qa’ida, with regional affiliates becoming more prominent?