Research studies

Countering ISIS networks: Algeria’s policies and challenges


Prepared by the researcher  : BOUTKHIL GUEMIDE – Assitant Teacher – University Mohammed Boudiaf, M’sila -Algeria

Source – Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Strategic and Military Studies :Seventh Issue – June 2020

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
 ISSN  2626-093X
Journal of Strategic and Military Studies

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link


Algeria, a forerunner in the fight against terrorism due to its decades-long experience with Islamist extremists, is facing new challenges in terms of tactics and strategy. With the rise of ISIS, new trends in global terrorism were already in place. ISIS troops have been manipulating the geopolitical scene in both the Middle East and North Africa. The recent attacks by ISIS jihadists on the Tunisian army and National Guard- along the border with Algeria, and the role of ISIS in the Libyan Crisis have had an impact on the security of Algeria itself. It is worth to mention that ISIS has exploited successfully the net as a successful means to recruit more fighters and promoting the ISIS system. Facing the changes of ISIS terrorism, the Algerian government has authorized the establishment of a “National Judicial Committee” (for security means) for the purpose of controlling different websites and networks which extremists use in order to be in contact with ISIS. So, this step shows the fact that the Algerian government has embarked on a new campaign aimed at combating jihadism with new tactics and operations. The present paper analyzes the rise of ISIS networks and its impacts on Algerian jihadists, and how the Algerian government intends to counter ISIS networks.


The history of mankind is replete with tales of horror of some power-wielding humans going mad, while others have been the victims of their unimaginable brutalities. The perpetrators have ranged from individuals to armed groups to states. The systematic use of terror as a means to attain political objectives exists all over the world.

As an old phenomenon, terrorism became an important feature of European politics during and after the French Revolution as different political groups comprising anarchists, nationalists and social revolutionaries practiced assassinations, bombings and various forms of violent seizure and destruction of property. Nowadays, terrorism has become the greatest evil in our world. It is perpetrated by fanatics who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human life. Although the international community remains divided on providing a universal definition of what terrorism means, yet it remains committed to confront the aforementioned phenomenon through a variety of means.

Terrorism, as a political phenomenon, has been associated with violence and crimes against humanity since the 80’s and 90’s of the 20th Century. Following the events of 9/ 11, the issue of terrorism started to attract scholars all over the world. In addition, different debates were held on the new rising phenomenon and its serious consequences on individuals, societies, and states. Accordingly, these scholars, of international and criminal law, attempted define terrorism from different perspectives. Commonly agreed, whatever context in which terrorism occurs and whatever means used, it communicates a message and its objectives go beyond damaging the state’s resources.

As for defining the term ‘terrorism’, it is seen from Islamic perspective, both the Holy Quran and Arabic language, as fear from Almighty Allah and his punishment. i. e. Panic and fear of Almighty God’s punishment. As it is stated in the following verses: ‘Fulfill My covenant, and I will fulfill your covenant with you. Me, you must fear’ (Quran 2: 40); ‘they fear their Lord from above them and do as they are commanded. Allah says: ‘Do not take to yourself two gods. He is only One God; so, have awe of Me’ (Quran 16: 49- 51); ‘So We answered him, and gave him John, curing his wife (of sterility). They raced with each other in good works and called on Us out of yearning and awe, and they were humble to Us’ (Quran 21: 90).

Since the attacks of 9/ 11 on US soil, there has been a blatant confusion and serious weariness between the concepts of Islam and the ones related Western culture, especially over the issue of “terrorism” as a result of clash of civilizations. As a result, some of the infamous concepts of of terrorism have been related to Islam. However, Islam, throughout history, rests a heavenly divine religion that has rejected violence and terror, and orders compassion, mercy, justice and charity, like the other divine religions before they had been distorted and changed. Allah stated in the Holy Quran the following verses: ‘We have not sent you (Prophet Muhammad) except as a mercy to all the worlds’ (Quran 21: 107) ; ‘Allah orders justice, and good deeds, and giving to one’s kindred. He forbids indecency, dishonor and insolence. He admonishes you in order that you take heed’ (Quran 17: 90). So, this is a clear fact that stems from the essence of Islam and its ideals, and a recipe of its qualities, and a necessary attribute of its doctrine, law, ethics, principles and values, and even with life and elements of environment ; such as, animals, plants, birds, whales, rivers, seas, air, forests, and with the beacons of the earth and the features of nature and its components, And they were disciplined in dealing with all of this by the rules of Islam, legal, mental and logical, so as to achieve harmony with the laws of the universe and the nature of things and instinct. Whether in their conquests, or their commercial dealings with different peoples, or when traveling all over the globe. Wherever they went, they carried with them these aspects that accompanied the spread of Islam and its appearance and sovereignty.

In addition, the sanctity of human blood is highly sacred in Islam, and Islam prohibits and condemns the killing of humans under whatever situations or conditions. It is stated in the Holy Quran the following verses : “Do not kill the soul that you have forbidden except with the truth” (Quran 17: 32); so, an assault on human soul is considred as a crime and an attack on all souls, because life is only one. In this sense, Allah said: “That was why We wrote for the Children of Israel that who ever killed a soul, except for a soul slain, or for sedition in the earth, it should be considered as though he had killed all mankind; and that who ever saved it should be regarded as though he had saved all mankind” (5 : 32). i. e. God says that if anyone kills someone unjustly, it is as if he had murdered all mankind. To murder even one person is totally opposed to the moral teaching of the Qur’an. Therefore, injustice and encroachment is forbidden in Islam not only if conducted by Muslims on Muslims, or on non- Muslims, but all sorts of people and creatures as well. This is considered as the greatest sins againts humanity in Islam.

In this light, Yahia Harun (2002) defined ‘terror’ as all sorts of violence committed against non military targets for political purposes. That is, targets of terror are entirely innocent civilians whose only crime is to represent the other side. For this reason, terror means subjecting innocent people to violence, which is an act bereft of any moral justification.

Throughout the years, various scholars have attempted to define terrorism. Studies have found more than 200 definitions of terrorism. In fact, Simon (1994) reported that there exit 212 different definitions of terrorism across the world; 90 of them are recurrently used by governments and other institutions. Below is a list of definitions of terrorism by some of the most distinguished scholars and institutions on the matter:

Bruce Hoffman As the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence. Terrorism is specifically designed to have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack. It is meant to instil fear within, and thereby intimidate, a wider “target audience” that might include a rival ethnic or religious group, an entire country, a national government or political party, or public opinion in general. Terrorism is designed to create power where there is none or to consolidate power where there is very little. Through the publicity generated by their violence, terrorists seek to obtain the leverage, influence and power they otherwise lack to effect political change on either a local or an international scale.
Lord Annan Terrorism feeds off publicity : publicity is its main hope of intimidating government and the public : publicity gives it a further chance for recruitment. The acts terrorists commit are each minor incidents in their general campaign to attract attention to their cause. No democracy can tolerate terrorism because it is a denial of the democratic assumption that injustice can, in time, be put right through discussion, peaceful persuasion and compromise. By killing and destroying, the terrorists are bound to extort publicity—and hence one of their ends— because such news will be reported
U.S. Department of Defense Terrorism refers to “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear ; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.
U.S. Department of State Terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine state agents.
Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism Terrorism is “any act or threat of violence, whatever its motives or purposes, that occurs in the advancement of an individual or collective criminal agenda and seeking to sow panic among people, causing fear by harming them, or placing their lives, liberty or security in danger, or seeking to cause damage to the environment or to public or private installations or property or to occupying or seizing them, or seeking to jeopardize a national resources.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) The unlawful use of serious violence against persons or property, or threat to use such violence, to intimidate or coerce a government, the public or any section of the public, in order to promote political, social or ideological objectives.

Accordingly, over the variety of these definitions, one academic definition has been established and has gained a wide respect among scholars and institutions worldwide. It was provided by Shmid (1988) defined terrorism as:

… an anxiety- inspiring method of repeated violent action, employed by (semi-) clandestine individual, group or state actors, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, whereby- in contrast to assassination- the direct targets of violence are not the main targets. The immediate human victims of violence are generally chosen randomly (targets of opportunity) or selectively (representative or symbolic targets) from a target population, and serve as message generators. Threat- and violence-based communication processes between terrorist (organization), (imperiled) victims, and main targets are used to manipulate the main target (audience(s)), turning it into a target of terror, a target of demands, or a target of attention, depending on whether intimidation, coercion, or propaganda is primarily sought. (p. 37)

In the light of the aforementioned definitions, terrorism is clearly considered as a criminal act which consists of two fundamental elements: a material and moral. To deal with, the material element bases terrorism on the criminal behavior, or the acts constituting it. In this context, terrorism is defined as an act, or certain actions aimed at achieving a certain goal. In this context, terrorism is characterized as: (1) use of illegal violence, (2) inclusion of terror and intimidation, and (3) this violence is coordinated, organized, and continuous. The moral element in defining terrorism bases its definition on the fact of objectives that are to be reached by terrorists in their actions; whether it is political, religious, or ideological. i. e. Terrorism is clearly seen from its ends that are to be achieved by through the use of terror, intimidation, and panic to gain political objectives.

Therefore, from these two definitions, we can include the elements of the terrorist act as follows:

  • Illegal violence,
  • Coordination, organization and continuity,
  • Creating horror and panic,
  • Achieving political, religious, ideological, or racial goals.

Nowadays, terrorism has evolved, in its means, along with the technological revolution which occurred in the 21st century. In today’s globalized world, ICTs have revolutionized the world, and made several impacts in major fields of life. As ICTs had positive effects on world societies through several benefits and services, they also had left negative impacts on societies. ICTs have paved the way for the emergence of new, dangerous crimes after combining computer networks and data systems with the World Wide Web. These crimes; in fact, are best characterized of their (1) quickness, (2) novelty. i. e. novel means used, (3) capability of erasing them, (4) difference in formats and styles, and being transnational. Accordingly, terrorist groups and organizations started conducting cyber-attacks using the Internet which made it clear to the world that terrorism has moved from using traditional means to the mastery of technological tools. Thus, terrorists have found a new technological space which is not costly, and enabled them to commit their crimes anywhere and at any time without any proofs so as to try them in courts.

Algeria was one of the first countries which suffered heavily from terrorism during the black decade. Accordingly, it became amongst the leading countries to warn the rest of world countries of this transnational phenomenon. There have been many reasons for terrorism in Algeria ; however, along with its evolution growth, its methods and means also evolved that it became more brutal and bloodiest, especially during the 1990s (97- 99), which affected all segments of society, as well as the economic and social infrstructures of the country.

Algeria has been among the first countries which experienced terrorism that affected its human and material potentials to a large extent. In fighting terrorism, it has been proven that the military approach to be ineffective ; thus, the Algerian authorities have ressorted to other means and policies. With the arrival of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, he adopted other peaceful means and policies which had positive results. Accordingly, Algeria, nowadays, is best known a leading country in the world in combatting terrorism.

The rise of ISIS, led by Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, in Iraq in 2014 and its extension to Syria and then to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia made it clear that the primary goal of the aforementioned terrorist organization is particularly to destabilize security in the Arab region and turn its countries into chaos, making them permanent, intense hotbeds. Since ISIS did not exclude Algeria from its map of incursion, this terrorist organization started investing in modern technologies and exploiting them in its war against Arab regimes in an attempt to recruit jihadists and fighters in order to raise its human and material capacities. This situation necessitated the Algerian authorities to adopt new ways and measures to prevent the presence and spread of ISIS in the Algerian territory as a compensation for its losses in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

The present paper attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What is the strategy of ISIS in Algeria?
  • Why does ISIS use ICTs and modern technology?
  • What are the networks and web sites that support ISIS in its promoting cyber terrorism?
  • What are the security and judicial procedures used by the Algerian authorities to counter ISIS networks and cyber terrorism?

The purpose of the study is to analyze how ISIS uses several networks and websites to affect Algerian jihadists, and how the Algerian government intends to counter these networks means to prevent ISIS presence in the Algerian territory.

  1. Cyberterrorism: Definition and character:

It is commonly known that terrorism is closely related to media; for the purpose of terrorist attempts is to seek media coverage characterized by fear and panic so that the message reaches to a great number of people for influencing both the public and the government. Although terrorism relied on traditional means of media in recent years, the rise and emergence of the Internet and new social media; however, several terrorist groups, including ISIS, turned towards using and heavily exploiting these technological means for their agendas. This; in fact, has given birth ‘Cyberterrorism’ which has totally monopolized the virtual space. As a consequence, terrorist groups and organizations started using several Internet web sites for propaganda, celebrity, recruitment of jihadists, money raising, communication, planning, etc.

It is worth to mention that the rise of technology and new media have provided terrorist organizations with lot of potentials to rival governments, security and intelligence services. Thus, it gave a new perspective of terrorism, in the name of Cyberterrorism which is considered as a more threatening form of terrorism because it targets lot of people and victims in a very short time.

Cyberterrorism is that terrorism which uses the Internet to (1) cause damage and paralysis in information and communication systems, both civil and military, (2) disconnect communication between different networks, (3) disrupt aviation and air defense systems, (4) infiltrate the banking system, (5) disrupt passenger traffic (by air or land), (6) break down power stations and water purification plants, or even (7) attack important strategic bases; such as, nuclear sites. In another sense, cyberterrorism is the use of digital techniques to intimidate, or subjugate people, or attack information systems on political, racial, or religious backgrounds. Also, it is known as a form of terrorism which uses pressing technology deliberately to cause devastating effects and serious damage of the state’s facilities (Piney, 2000).

Moreover, cyberterrorism is defined as an electronic version of material terrorism which originated from information and communication technology and the Internet. Terrorists exploited this technique to carry out illegal attacks against targets and structures created for the benefit of humanity. These targets include power, electricity, water networks, computer and information systems, military and civilian sites, air traffic, transportation and other infrastructure. The main objective of these attacks is to subjugate governments and spread fear and terror in humans for the sake of achieving terrorist objectives, whether political, religious, social, or economic (Gunaratna, 2004).

Since cyberterrorism is seen as a form of cybercrime, the common link between them is that both crimes use the electronic context. However, cyberterrorism is conducted against the entire international community. So, when a particular country is attacked, it seems that the whole international community has been attacked. In this context, Pandey (2000) stated that all terrorist acts are cybercrimes, but not all cybercrimes are terrorist acts.

Following 9/11 terrorism has been associated with the Internet, and it has proven that cyberterrorism is real and current threat and destructive, especially when the element of terrorism was mainly incorporated. Cyberterrorism was viewed in the acts of penetrating into military and civilian websites. However, another fact of cyberterrorism was completely ignored: the daily use of the Internet by terrorist organizations to plan and coordinate their operations. The terrorist presence on the Web is sporadic, varied, and largely evasive. If a terrorist website appears, it quickly changes its electronic pattern, then disappears to reappear in a new form and address after a short period of time. Although countries and world authorities made more efforts to prevent such terrorist organizations as al Qaeda to use the Internet, they failed. When a web site, belonging to Al Qaeda, had been infiltrated and broke down and removed from the net, several new web sites emerge (Weimann, 2004, p. 1). Cyberterrorism has been exceptional in the quality of the tool used to achieve terrorist targets. Since traditional terrorism uses purely material means; such as, explosives and other arms, cyberterrorism is based on the exploitation of technological potentials, and the use of means of communication and the Internet in order to intimidate, intimidate, intimidate or threaten people (Brunst, n. d., p. 53).

Cyber​​terrorism has grown up in both ICT environment and the Internet. This technology has been thoroughly used and exploited by terrorists for the following reasons:

  • ICT tools and the Internet used are faster, cheaper means, and more accurate than conventional methods of terrorism,
  • Terrorists are able to hide from the security and intelligence services,
  • There are no physical barriers; No international, or geographical borders to prevent terrorists from executing their crimes in any part of the world,
  • Terrorist crimes are committed distantly,
  • Their impacts are devastating, terrible, and violent leading to many human and material losses. (Abomhara and Køien, 2015)

The characteristics of cyberterrorism include:

  • Useing vocabulary of cybercrime, such as:
  • Hacker, which hacks into computer systems;
  • Cracker, which is an electronic hacker that has the ability to hack computer systems with a criminal motive;
  • Acktivisim,
  • Hacktivisim, which is an electronic hacker for political motives and its work is not destructive, such as the spread of viruses for the purpose of fame or other personal ambitions. Such as publishing advertisements and distorting reputation on websites, disrupting information systems and stealing identity cards.
  • Using electronic means and weapons which include the followings:
  • The ability to block access to certain websites on the net by stopping and disabling them through sending lots of emails, and prevent access to them in order to achieve two main goals: (1) to prevent access and blocking them, and (2) to publish huge advertisements.
  • The use of Ping Attack: Using the e-mail as a tool to send many messages at once to certain targets, and to stop and destroy targeted sites.
  • The ability to attack web sites and access them to obtain information stored in computer systems.
  • The cyberterrorists to spread several types of viruses, and destroy and stop lots of computers located in many parts of the world.
  • Difficulty of tracking these terrorist crimes for their fast disappearance and easiness to destroy evidences.
  • Cyberterrorists have capabilities of using modern technologies and computer programming. (Salama, 2000)

Cyberterrorism has objectives which are:

  • Destabilizing security, spreading fear and terror, and disrupting state systems.
  • Violating of public order and information security.
  • Damaging to state infrastructure.
  • Threat and publicity attract attention and stir up public opinion.
  • Recruiting new terrorists
  • Raising funds and donations. (Achkoski and Dojchinovski, 2006, pp. 3- 4)

Cyberterrorism is manifested in the following types:

  • Violation privacy: Privacy of individuals, citizens, and senior officials,
  • Information Appropriation and Secret Data Theft: These are sometimes disseminated and misrepresented in order to threaten the state’s security and make citizens live in chaos.
  • Demolition of the e-Government structure and rules: Through demolition of the e-Government, terrorist organizations seek to endanger the government’s credibility. (Brunst, n. d., pp. 56- 7).

According to Weimann (2004), cyberterrorists use the Internet and modern technologies for the following terrorist purposes:

  • Information exploration: The Internet provides sensitive information that terrorists seek to obtain; such as, places of nuclear facilities, international airports, and information related to counterterrorism;
  • Communications: The Internet helps terrorist organizations communicate and coordinate with each other because of the low cost of connecting through. It is also bound with information that can be exchanged. The absence of an apparent leader of the terrorist group has become a fundamental feature of the modern terrorist organization, because of the easy communication and coordination through the Web.
  • Mobilization and recruitment of terrorists: The involvement of new elements within terrorist organizations maintains and sustains them. Through the Web they exploit the sympathies of the Internet users and mobilize the naïve young people through chat rooms.
  • Planning and coordination: The Internet is a very important means of communication for terrorist organizations; it provides them with freedom of association to carry out specific terrorist attacks.
  • Access to finance: Terrorists use selected statistical data from personal information accessed by users on the Web through inquiries and surveys to identify people with compassionate hearts and to plead them to pay financial contributions to people. All this is done by e-mail in a way that the donor does not suspect that he is helping a terrorist organization.
  • Attacking other terrorist organizations: The Internet is used as a battle ground between terrorist organizations and some of them and members of the same organization. (p. 3)
  1. The rise of ISIS:

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 paved the way to the emergence of a new Jihadist Movement that comprised totally foreign Jihadists and fighters. It is worth to mention that Afghanistan, at those remote times, represented the basis of Jihad in order to free the country from the Russian presence.

The future of the movement was that success in the aforementioned country would be the source of strategic Jihad against oppression and tyranny exerted on Muslims around the world, and also would lead to the liberation of Palestine and the changing of all Arab regimes. This belief was adopted by Osama bin Laden when he created Al- Qaeda which was mainly composed of Muslim youths from several Islamic countries. Al- Qaeda was located in Afghanistan from which Jihad started against Kuffars in order to establish the Islamic Caliphate (Sekulow, 2004; Al Hachemi, 2005).

Following the attacks of 9/11, the US government decided to launch military campaigns against Al- Qaeda, the presumed author of the attacks, in Afghanistan and Iraq. While Al- Qaeda was not on the ground in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003, the ensuing years of chaos provided the establishment of an Islamic emirate (or state) by Abu Mus’ab Al Zarqawi in 2006, who declared his loyalty to Osama bin Laden. The name adopted to the newly established state was Al- Qaeda in Iraq, which grouped five other Jihadi organizations. It is worth to mention that Al Zarqawi’s newly established state attracted more Iraqi and Arab youths because it directed Jihad and fighting against US forces in Iraq. He led the Islamic state in Iraq until his assassination on June, 7, 2006 by a US airstrike (Abd Al Rahmane, 2015, p. 19).

With the death of Al Zarqawi, the council of Shura was dissolved and Al- Qaeda in Iraq was renamed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and led by Umar Al Baghdadi. After his assassination by the US forces in 2010, leadership fell into Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi who united Jabhat Al Nosra in Syria to ISIS to become ISIL in 2013. Accordingly, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was declared as Caliphate. This announcement came just weeks after ISIS seized Iraq’s second city of Mosul on June, 10, 2014. ISIS also expanded in Eastern and Central Syria and consolidated its hold over the areas surrounding the Northern city of Raqqa, the organization’s capital. ISIS controlled a territory stretching from parts of Aleppo Governorate in Syria to parts of Salah al-Din Governorate in Iraq, over 400 miles away. This area included major parts of Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk, Diyala and Salah al-Din Provinces in Iraq and also major parts of al-Raqqa, al-Hasaka, Deir al-Zor, Aleppo, Homs, as well as rural Damascus Provinces in Syria. In addition, ISIS controlled parts of al- Hajjar al-Aswad district in the suburbs of Damascus and major parts of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp near Damascus. Overall, the organization has control over territory occupied by an estimated ten million people in Iraq and Syria, and has nominal control over areas elsewhere, including parts of Central Libya (Sirte), North- Eastern Nigeria, Eastern Afghanistan (Nangarhar), Egypt (North- East Sinai) (Al Hachemi, 2005, pp. 131- 3).

ISIS has been characterized by the influx of individuals in its ranks. Many have travelled to these war zones from all over the world including from countries in Western Europe, former Soviet Republics, North America, the Balkans, the Maghreb, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Termed as Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs), the number of such individuals now in Syria and Iraq was estimated to be around 30,000 as of December 2015 with the most coming from Tunisia, followed by Saudi Arabia and Russia. Another concerning development out of this influx is the travelling of women and girls as young as 14 years old into these war zones who are mesmerized by the ‘romantic idea of Jihad’. Determined to help in the war, women, including girls, have travelled to Syria and Iraq to offer themselves as brides of the so-called “heroes” of Jihad (Jawhar, 2016, p. 31).

In relation to the influx of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and other militant groups operating in the areas, another major- and probably the leading factor that led to the rise of ISIS, is the group’s own well thought- out media strategy. While the battle for the land of Syria and Iraq is very much in the physical world, their media strategy; however, lies very much in the virtual world, through the use of the Internet (Jawhar, 2016, p. 31).

  1. Why does ISIS use cyberterrorism and ICT tools?

Terrorists have good reasons to use social media. First, these channels are by far the most popular with their intended audience, which allows terrorist organizations to be part of the mainstream. Second, social media channels are user-friendly, reliable, and free. Finally, social networking allows terrorists to reach out to their target audiences and virtually “knock on their doors”—in contrast to older models of websites in which terrorists had to wait for visitors to come to them.

Since ISIS has welcomed tens of thousands of followers worldwide, to be part of the so-called Islamic State, it has managed to spread fear and its influence far beyond any other terrorist groups in the past. Several attacks in the name of ISIS have taken place around the world including in countries; such as, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, the United States and Yemen. In addition, ISIS’s exploitation of the Internet, particularly through its extensive use of social media and online communication platforms, has garnered the appeal and support of an unprecedented number of individuals on a global scale.

Being an important technological tool nowadays, the Islamic State in Iraq recognized the power of digital media when its leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, discovered the utility of uploading grainy videos of his atrocities to the Internet. As the group evolved, its propagandists surpassed and humiliated their rivals in al Qaeda by placing a premium on innovation. The Islamic State maximized its reach by exploiting a variety of platforms: social media networks; such as, Twitter, Facebook, peer-to-peer messaging apps (like Telegram and Surespot, and content sharing systems like Today the Islamic State is as much a media conglomerate as a fighting force (‘Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War’, n. d.).

Since its creation, ISIS has attracted the world’s attention with its rapid expansion in both Iraq and Syria, its brutal treatment of religious minorities (e.g., Yazidis, Christians), and its well- publicized beheadings of hostages. It has also proven to be quite savvy in its use of social media, with teams working to create crafted statements with accompanying video or images that showcase ISIS’s accomplishments. Some focus on successful attacks, or the killing individuals who have been captured or found guilty of some offence, but others highlight the social services ISIS offers; such as, the delivery of food and supplies to areas they control. ISIS utilizes a variety of social media platforms, such as Twitter, and even when these accounts are shut down, new accounts almost immediately reappear, enabling ISIS to reach its audience (Cunningham, Everton, & Schroeder, Mar. 2015, pp. 2- 3).

  • Propaganda and celebrity:

             ISIS is quite sophisticated in its use of propaganda and social media. The group’s ideological wing, which is supported by its Media Council, disseminates religious edicts, battlefield updates, and specific threats through official platforms that can reach sympathizers and new audiences via social media (TRAC 2014). In particular, shortly after it renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq in 2006, it established the al-Furqan Institute for Media Production, which produces CDs, DVDs, posters, pamphlets, and web-related propaganda products (Roggio 2007). In 2014, it established the al-Hayat Media Center, which targets a Western audience and produces material in English, German, Russian and French (Gertz 2014).

       Beginning in July 2014, al-Hayat began publishing a digital magazine called Dabiq, in a number of different languages including English. This digital source provides articles related to a host of topics, including theology, strategy, and speeches given by ISIS’s leadership, to name a few. Other official platforms, namely Mu’assassat al Furqan, produce and release videos such as those showing the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines (Saltman and Winter 2014).

           Information officially published by ISIS is regularly disseminated to new audiences and potential online sympathizers across the globe via social media platforms, in particular Twitter and YouTube. Moreover, sympathizers and followers, often referred to as “Fanboys,” regularly circulate and distribute ISIS propaganda and information on these same platforms (TRAC 2014). For example, the group has utilized Twitter to distribute its message by organizing hashtag campaigns and by hijacking popular hashtags, such as those related to the 2014 World Cup. It also includes links to other websites for longer messages. ISIS has used both’s forums and, a website where anyone can post messages and images anonymously, and it has even created its own app, “Dawn of Glad Tidings,” to efficiently tweet messages to its followers (Berger 2014; Saltman and Winter 2014).

          ISIS’s social media networks have remained flexible and resilient in the face of efforts to dismantle them. In August 2014 Twitter administrators shut down a number of ISIS-associated accounts. ISIS recreated and publicized new accounts the following day, but Twitter administrators quickly shut these down. This back-and-forth pattern has continued to this day. ISIS is able to quickly spread information about new accounts by either providing backup account information in its profile or by using accounts that have not been shut down to spread the word about its new accounts. The conflict between ISIS and Twitter has even led ISIS to threaten one of Twitter’s founders (Bacon, 2015).

        The group has attempted to branch out into alternative social media sites, such as Quitter, Friendica and Diaspora, and VK; Quitter, Friendica and VK, however, almost immediately worked to remove ISIS’s presence from their sites (Anti-Defamation League, 2014).

  • Recruitment of Jihadists:

             Social media such as Twitter, Facebook or blogs are particularly suitable for the goal of recruitment. Young westerners encounter with the terrorist content in their ordinary online environment. It makes a significant difference whether we see terror attacks in the format of the evening news or on our newsfeed on Facebook.

          Firstly, it is a more direct conversation between terror organization and target on a more individual basis. One fighter is posting something on a personal level and not (at least not openly) on behalf of the organization. Secondly, the content is not framed by the news agency’s comments but is reaching the user unfiltered and framed by harmless tweets and posts of friends. Thirdly, the content published over social media does not have the format of ordinary advertisement – it rather seems like an authentic report of experiences (Pues, 2016, p. 7).

             A critical capability for ISIS towards achieving its objectives is member recruitment. Recruitment is focused on, and operates largely through, social media. ISIS has been much more successful than its predecessors, such as Al Qaeda or Jabhat Al Nusra, in this arena. Klausen does an excellent job of breaking down ISIS strategy, “The purpose of the seemingly innocuous tweeting of cat pictures and hanging around with your friends, blended with staggering depictions of brutality, is to drill home one message: You belong with us because jihad is an individual obligation for every Muslim. The content conveys that fighting– and dying– will give your life meaning.” She goes on to explain how ISIS makes its extreme lifestyle seem normal, and how they have focused on recruiting children. ISIS has managed to appeal to many different demographics: the would-be martyr, the adrenaline junkie, and the disillusioned youth looking for a sense of belonging and purpose (Jawhar, 2016, p. 49- 50).

  1. ISIS strategy in Algeria:

After the events of the spring of 2011, which changed many of the geo-strategic equations and balance of power in North Africa and the Maghreb in particular, the organization appeared to advocate the terrorist as the most important and most terrorist organizations training, financing and armament and extremism in harassment in Algeria, especially when this organization managed to control the fields and wells of oil in the city of Cert Libya tried to infiltrate Algeria and carry out operations along the Tunisian Shannabi Mountains, but all attempts were unsuccessful as a result of close cooperation between the Tunisian and the Tunisian intelligence services Sieh and the Algerian and Mauritanian and finance (Amira, 2017).

Since then, it has been trying to recruit Algerian youth, especially those with higher qualifications in disciplines related to science and how to manufacture hand-made explosives such as biochemistry, applied physics, etc., because the organization needs people to use in suicide operations, as well as trained fighters To fight in the first ranks and to put them at the forefront of armed confrontations and use them as human shields to protect leaders from the first, second and third rows of this terrorist organization, the organization is indispensable for individuals who make explosive belts and explosives, Easily for each student chemistry or biophysics manufactured according to the equations and quantities and specific quantities (Amira, 2017).

In addition, she tried to encourage the recruitment of Algerian women for use as a trap to attract young men and fighters and to seduce them into marriage. And because we are in the era of media and influential propaganda media has worked on this organization to broadcast videos and videos of intimidation especially directed to Algeria and its people and security institutions and military, and the agency Depth of them is one of the most important and most influential and influential, and strive to penetrate the national social fabric and the formation of sleeper cells Led by the Deputy Minister of Defense and the Commander of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Al-Qaid Saleh, on several occasions, thus attempting to make a mock victory by carrying out terrorist operations such as planting IEDs on military roads, as it did on 9 October. 016 Near the town of Tammalos in eastern Skikda (Algeria), the strategy of ISIS considers Algeria to be an intransigent country that must be weakened in any way and by the use of extremist terrorist groups. Therefore, it continues to promote the destabilization of security in the country, exploiting the past and bringing it to brainwashing young people in order to convince them to revolutionize their system and state institutions and pursue a political ideology that does not correspond to their extremist Takfiri vision (Amira, 2017).

This organization, whose members are about 10 thousand fighters in Libya, tries in various ways to target Algeria with its historical and geographical weight and vast natural and petroleum resources, which is considered the second most powerful Arab army and the world armies that have reputation and prestige, but their strategic goal is clear in Algeria, And then all the surrounding countries and then spread to Egypt and the jungles of Africa, so this organization allied in 2014 with the dissidents of al-Qaeda supporters of al-Qaeda in the Arab Maghreb and established what they called the soldiers of the Caliphate and the allegiance of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Amira, 2017).

The terrorist organization works on the successful, intensive and intensive exploitation of the means of information and technology through social networking sites, especially Twitter and Facebook, to recruit young people in Algeria. According to investigations carried out by the security services, this terrorist organization promotes the payment of large amounts to these recruits who succeed in recruiting their families or close associates of between 20 and 50 thousand euros per month per person against them when they arrive in Syria and Iraq through flights through Tunisia and To Turkey before reaching the final terminal is the Turkish-Syrian border (Amira, 2017).


  1. Algeria’s policies and strategies in countering ISIS cyberterrorism:

Since cyberterrorist attempts have been promoted worldwide, and fastly, through ICT means, both Algerian security and lawmaking authorities were obliged to react to this cyberterrorist phenomenon and other related electronic crimes. Therefore, a law ordinance N° 09- 04 was issued on Aug. 5, 2009 which contains special rules for the prevention and control of crimes related to information and communication technologies through the installation of the National Commission for the Prevention of Electronic Crimes by a Presidential Decree N° 261- 15 of October, 8, 2015. However, it is worth to mention that Algeria’s measures taken for countering ISIS cyberterrorism took both military and intelligence strategies, on one hand, and judicial and legal strategies.

  • Military and intelligence strategies:

Algeria has been known for its long- term fight against terrorism during the 90’s, the period which was commonly known as the Black Decade. Accordingly, the Algerian army and other security and intelligence services gained lot of experience in dealing with the terrorist phenomenon, and were able to overcome it. Moreover, Algeria, through this great success, became amongst the pioneer countries in the world in the fight and prevention of terrorism. This; in fact, made many countries and superpowers; such as, the US to rely on the Algerian experience in the fight against terrorism.

As for the military and intelligence measures taken by the Algerian military authorities to counter ISIS cyberterrorism attempts, they can be described as follows:

  The Ministry of National Defense, in Algeria, is the sole responsible for countering ISIS cyberterrorism. It coordinates with Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DRS), Directorate General for National Security (DGSN), and the Command of National Gendarmerie (GN). In these bodies, the Section for Prevention of Electronic Crimes has been installed, with 48 domestic cells in Algerian wilayas. These cells are directed and managed by highly trained experts to deal with cybercrimes. However, in the case of tracking cyberterrorists and cyberterrorism crimes, these cells and their agents collaborate with military experts in counterterrorism. Any cyberterrorist threat discovered by these cells, either (DGSN) or (GN), is reported directly to both the Ministry of National Defense and the Directorate of Security and Intelligence (DRS). Then, after checking and analyzing these cyberterrorist threats, orders are issued to both DGSN and GN to react against these threats.

Within this trend, particular cells were created by both security and intelligence agencies to control and follow up ISIS web sites and social networks for recruiting Jihadists. For this purpose, special cells to follow up recruitment and social networking sites at the Electronic Crimes Unit were established. These cells belong to security units for common wires as well as intelligence. It specializes in electronic espionage and is responsible for leading e-war and decoding. With information provided by customer-based human resources. Using advanced technical means, the Unit relies on three aspects of electronic intelligence work: monitoring, coding and jamming. The advanced computers of the units are able to work on the social networking sites of electronic recruitment and monitoring of messages of intelligence value, through the treatment of millions of communications words. These units are also capable of tracking social networking sites that find terrorist organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram, as well as Tor, which is a free program that guarantees its users complete confidentiality while using the Internet and protects them from all types of electronic evasion.

Another measure taken by both military and intelligence services is the tracking of repentant terrorists. Also, these were prevented from appearing in media and conducting dialogues so as not to become symbols. In addition, this measure was to prevent them to promote terrorist and extremist ideas among young people.

As for the intelligence strategy in countering cyberterrorism and social networks responsible for recruiting Jihadists, they relied their plan to infiltrate and destroy these cells for terrorists’ recruitment. This operation has been successful and helped both security and intelligence services to infiltrate deep in the terrorist cells, know their exact strategies, and plans so as to be able to respond quickly and correctly and intervene in the right moments before terrorist attacks took place. The aforementioned operation relied basically on planting some convicted Islamist militants and intelligence elements. The major purpose of this infiltration plan is to destroy terrorist cells for recruiting Jihadists.

  • Judicial and legal strategies:

Since there has been a qualitative shift in terrorism, which has shifted from its traditional style to the electronic, using the most efficient and intensive means of modern technology and information technology, Algerian legislative authorities have adapted modern terrorist crimes in the category of cybercrime.

In order to combat the phenomenon of electronic recruitment of terrorism as it is a modern crime and implemented by modern technology has been subjected to Algerian lawmaker to the pattern of electronic crime. He set up a national body charged with electronic surveillance, as stated in article 13 of Law 09-04 of 5 August 2009, “A national body for the prevention and control of crimes related to information and communication technologies is established and determined by the composition, organization and functioning of the organization” (Official Journal, 2009, p. 5).

The composition of the commission includes a committee headed by the Minister of Justice Directorate General Directorate of preventive surveillance and electronic vigilance Directorate of Technical Coordination Center for technical operations and regional annexes. The Commission is composed of judicial police officers (Official Journal, 2009, p. 5).

Article 4 of Presidential Decree 15-216 sets out two main functions of the Commission to prevent crimes related to information and communication technologies and to combat crimes related to information and communication technologies with a view to ensuring the control of electronic communications in order to prevent acts described as terrorist or subversive offenses affecting the security of the State. Electronic surveillance is the intercept of electronic correspondence recording of sounds taking photographs inspection of information systems blocked (Official Journal, 2009, pp. 6- 7).

  1. An assessment of Algeria’s policies and strategies in countering ISIS cyberterrorism:

In analyzing Algeria’s policies and strategies in countering ISIS cyberterrorism, it is clear and evident that they have been successful in driving back ISIS terrorist threats in Algeria. Also, it is these measures and policies made it impossible for ISIS to infiltrate deeply into the Algerian soil, thanks to both military and intelligence and security measures. Since ISIS slogan was ‘Remaining and Expanding’, the primary objective of ISIS presence in Libya was to create cells related to ISIS and then to be activated later in the Algerian soil. Although the terrorist group of the Caliphate Soldiers (Jund Al Khilafa) claimed loyalty to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, it was unsuccessful in turning Algeria into chaos because the effective measures taken by both military and security agencies.

In the battle ground, the Algerian security and military authorities have also been successful to protect the borders and prevent their use by terrorists, especially transporting of terrorists and jihadists, by using a security system for the digital border of the GPS system to identify routes and neighboring areas, of the neighborhood, and to draw and identify routes. This; in fact, facilitated the countering cross- border security threats (Al Hamdi, 2015, pp. 147- 8).

Smart borders were also used to build a virtual wall using advanced military technology for digitization and computerization of national border security monitoring to help detect and monitor the movement of persons using radar and surveillance cameras. In order to effectively monitor borders, the military authorities rely on the use of mobile surveillance systems, unmanned aircraft systems, thermal imaging equipment, and AFIS 2 to detect terrorists’ identity (Al Hamdi, 2015, pp. 147- 8).

Thanks to these procedures and advanced techniques, the Algerian security forces were able to stand in front of ISIS; they constituted an impenetrable barrier for ISIS to infiltrate the Algerian territory. In addition, the Algerian security and military forces succeeded to eliminate hundreds of terrorists who were proven to be members of this terrorist organization. Security reports confirmed the killing of 200 elements in Algeria since the establishment of the organization by “Alone Wolves” in military in the North of Algeria (The fall of ISIS men in Algeria during security and military operations’, 2017, p. 2).

According to security sources, countering ISIS in Algeria is a top priority alert; ISIS has been chased by all security services, represented by the army, intelligence, police, and gendarmerie. They are being pursued through intensive investigations and surveillance operations. In the course of a military operation, ISIS Emir Abd Al Malek Gouri was reported to be killed in the city of Boumerdes, East of Algiers on December 7, 2014. In a second operation, the new Emir Othmane Al- Assami was killed in May 2015 during a military operation in the province of Bouira (Southeast of Algiers). 24 members of ISIS were killed most notably in armed clashes in the mountains of the province of Bouira in April 2015. On February 26, Algerian security thwarted a suicide attack with an explosive belt against a police station in the center city of Constantine, which led to the death of its executor. In addition, the Algerian security services were able to dismantle dozens of secret cells belonging to ISIS (‘The fall of ISIS men in Algeria’, 2017, p. 2).

  1. Conclusion:

            According to the data presented in this paper, Algeria is the only country in the Africa and the Arab world that its doors are closed in the face of ISIS, despite its expansion in Libya, the presence of its cells in the Sahel countries, and Algeria’s vast borders. Therefore, ISIS was unable to penetrate the Algerian borders from the east and the south, as well as the absence of appropriate terrorist organization that hold its ideas in Algeria, after the success of the Algerian forces in eradicating extremist organizations during the black decade period throughout the nineties of the last century.

           Also, among the causes that made it impossible for ISIS to exist in Algeria are as follows :

  • The mechanism used by the Algerian authorities to secure the borders, especially with Libya, where the armed groups are active. The Algerian Ministry of Defense and the Algerian state as a whole adopted a new security policy based on dividing the southern region into specific military zones. There existed six operational military zones. However, nowadays, two operational zones were added along the Algerian Sahara : one to secure the Libyan border, and the second to secure the border with the Niger and Mali ;
  • And to Algeria’s successful in counter- terrorism policy and experience, which led to the construction of military security camps, which secured all the eastern borders, especially the border area with Tunisia and Libya ; thus, anticipating the pace of ISIS’ spread.


Abd Al Rahmane, A. M. (2015). ISIS: From the cell to the caliphate. Horouf Electronic Publishsing.

Abomhara, M. & Geir M. Køien. (2015). ‘Cyber Security and the Internet of Things: Vulnerabilities, Threats, Intruders and Attacks’. Journal of Cyber Security, 4, pp. 65– 88. Doi: 10.13052/jcsm2245-1439.414. River Publishers

Achkoski, J. & Dojchinovski Metodija. (2006). Cyberterrorism and cybercrime : Threats for cyber security. Available at :

Al Hachemi, H. (2015). ISIS World : From establishment to caliphate announcement. (1st Ed.). London : Hikma Publishing.

Al Hamdi, A. (2015). Borders’ security and its implications on geopolitics in Algeria. Unpublished Magistère Thesis. University Mohammed Boudiaf, Msila.

Amira, A. (Jan. 2017). ‘ISIS strategy to target the Algerian State.’ Akhbarelyoum. Available at :

Anti-Defamation League. 2014. “Hashtag Terror: How ISIS Manipulates Social Media.”
Combating Hate: International Extremism & Terrorism. – .VQjr9kLZr4E

 ‘Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.’ (1998). Arab Convention on Terrorism. Cairo: Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior and the Council of Arab Ministers of Justice. Available at :

Bacon, John. (2015). “Islamic State Threatens ‘War’ on Twitter Co-founder.” USA Today.

Berger, J. M. (2014). “How ISIS Games Twitter.” The Atlantic. Available at :

Bruce, H. (2006). Inside Terrorism. NY: Columbia University Press.

Brunst, P. hillip W. (n. d.). ‘Terrorism and the Internet: New Threats Posed by Cyberterrorism and Terrorist Use of the Internet.’ Springer. DOI 10.1007/978-0-387-89291-7_2

Cunningham, D. Everton, S., F. & Robert Schroeder. (Mar. 2015). Social Media and the ISIS Narrative. Calhoun: The Naval Postgraduate School Institutional Archive. Dudley Knox Library. Monterey, CA

Gertz, Bill. 2014. “New Al Qaeda Group Produces Recruitment Material for Americans,
Westerners.” The Washington Free Beacon.

Gunaratna, R. (2004). The Changing Face of Terrorism. Singapore, Eastern University Press.

Jawhar, J. (2016). Terrorists’ use of the Internet: The case of Daesh. The Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter- Terrorism (SEARCCT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Joint Chiefs of Staff DOD. (2008). Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Washington D. C.: DOD

Lord, A. (2007). (Ed.). Report of the Committee on the Future of Broadcasting. London: HMSO, 1977.

Piney, A. (2000). Cyber Crime- Detection and prevention. Connell.

Pues, V. (2016). The Islamic State on tumbler- Recuiting Western women. Available at :

Roggio, Bill. 2007. “US Targets al Qaeda’s al-Furqan Media Wing in Iraq.” The Long
War Journal.
Available at:

Salama, M. (2000). Computers and Internet crimes. Alexandria: New Arab Bureau.

Saltman, Erin Marie, and Charlie Winter. 2014. Islamic State: The Changing Face of
Modern Jihadism
. London, UK: Quilliam Foundation.

Schmid, A. & Yongman, A. (1988). Political Terrorism. Amsterdam, North- Holland.

Sekulow, J. (2004). The Rise of ISIS. NY: Howard Books.

TRAC. 2014. “Islamic State of Iraq and ash Sham/Islamic State (Islamic State of Iraq,
ISIS or ISIL, IS).” Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Available at: isis ip_login_no_cache=f05faf58322b0dd2be818cca68396c34

 ‘The fall of ISIS men in Algeria during security and military operations.’ (May, 2017). Al Arab Newspaper. N° 10803. (p. 2).

US Department of State. (1996). Patterns of global terrorism: 1995. Washington D. C.: US Department of State.

Weimann, G. (Mar. 2004). ‘How modern terrorism uses the Internet’ Special Report. United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Washington, DC. Available at:

Weimann, G. (Dec. 2004). ‘Cyberterrorism: How Real Is the Threat?’ Special Report. United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Washington, DC. Available at :

 ‘Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War’ (n. d.). Available at:

المركز الديمقراطى العربى

المركز الديمقراطي العربي مؤسسة مستقلة تعمل فى اطار البحث العلمى والتحليلى فى القضايا الاستراتيجية والسياسية والاقتصادية، ويهدف بشكل اساسى الى دراسة القضايا العربية وانماط التفاعل بين الدول العربية حكومات وشعوبا ومنظمات غير حكومية.

مقالات ذات صلة

اترك تعليقاً

لن يتم نشر عنوان بريدك الإلكتروني. الحقول الإلزامية مشار إليها بـ *

زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى