Online Radicalisation – Security
Challenge That Endures
Ministarstvo odbrane BiH – Ministry of Defense of BiH
Centar za društveno istraživanje Global Analitika – Center for Social
Research Global Analytics
The problem of violent extremism and radicalism is the current global phenomenon, which
also represents one of the greatest threats to the security of the world, not counting the major
armed conflict. The phenomenon of violent extremism and radicalism has not bypassed
Bosnia and Herzegovina, although in our state of extremism and some forms of radicalism
have been present for many years, but have largely been suppressed by the state until the 90s
of XX century.
Characteristic of violent extremism and radicalism in recent times is that it has become an
international security issue that does not cease to exist, but only changes its forms of
manifestation. Also, drivers and carriers of extreme ideologies are discovering new ways to
recruit new members and enable the spread and propaganda of their radical views that are
often a call for violence and lead to terrorism as the most dangerous manifestation of violent
extremism. With the advent of the terrorist group that gathered supporters from different
countries of the world, such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL, began the practice of using the media,
especially the Internet for the purpose of propaganda, but also to attract new followers.
Especially ISIL realized the importance of the Internet, and they exercised maximum use of
the Internet, especially social networks for the purpose of attracting new supporters. There
have been many cases, especially in western countries, where younger people were
completely radicalized via the Internet and this phenomenon is called online radicalization.
There are hundreds of examples of departures of young people on the Iraqi-Syrian
battlefield, which have received all instructions via the Internet. At later stage, the
strengthening of anti-terrorist measures and cooperation between countries directly affected
by the problem of terrorism, reduced the number of departures on the Syrian-Iraqi battlefield,
and some websites were blocked or have been disabled, but there are still active sites and
individuals who promote radical and extreme ideology.
Examples of departures of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Syrian-Iraqi battlefield
indicate that the problem of radicalism is present in our country, but the majority of foreign
fighters from Bosnia and Herzegovina are radicalized indirectly through radical authority or
through friends. In some cases they were backed by the use of the Internet or as secondary
factors of radicalization. Also, there is information that other radical ideologies present in
BiH, using the Internet, in sense of conducting online radicalization of young people. Bosnia
and Herzegovina as part of the international coalition in the fight against terrorism created
"BiH Strategy for Prevention and Fight against Terrorism 2015-2020", which promotes a
multidisciplinary approach in this prevention and fight. However, the survey results as part
of this study indicate that there is more space, especially in the prevention of online
radicalization, to minimize the possibility that BiH citizens are becoming radicalized and
ready to perform violent actions.
Keywords: online radicalization, violent extremism and radicalism, prevention, recruitment
Social networks play an important role in strategy of extremists, due their
operations at Iraq, Syria, Philippines and other places. Twitter’s liberal policy in
control of sharing information has been used as advertising mean of militants and
supporters of so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Levant (hereinafter ISIS). Beside
Twitter, militants use a number of other social media such as Facebook, Instagram,
Ask.fm, WhatsApp, Messenger, Paltalk, Viber, JustPost.it, Kik and Tumblr.
Encryption software such as TOR
is used in goal of hiding location due
communication with people who share the same opinion as them, those are militants
. It was an easy choice to make Twitter- the leading social network
in goal of spreading extremists advertising. Its use doesn’t require cost, it has good
post review, it’s possible to publish images and video content and it’s easy to share
this content with other users
The TOR aims to conceal the identity of its users and their online activities from traffic
control and analysis by separating identification and routing. It is the implementation of
onion routing, which encrypts and then randomly rejects communications through a relay
network run by volunteers around the world. Moreover, online routing is an anonymous
communication technique over the computer network.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion_routing, [Accessed: 10 Jul, 2017]
Klause, J.: Tweeting the Jihad: Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in
Syria and Iraq, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 38(1)/2015, p. 1
Besides: Twitter is popular social network in most countries of West Europe which presents
certain cultural characteristics of countries from which a large proportion of foreign fighters
in Syria and Iraq are coming.
Neither our country is bypassed by the phenomenon of radicalism and
extremism, which are in a certain extent and in a different form represented since
90’s of 20. Century. Violent extremism has become a general global security
problem; it doesn’t show any signs of decay, but only through the development of
technology and means of communication take various forms of manifestation. It’s
reason why terrorism becomes an object of interest for scientists, theorists,
politicians, journalists and members of security, military and police institutions
Even with the advent of the first examples of global terrorism, which is linked to
the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, it has been initiated extensive use of the Internet
for terrorist purposes. Initially, apart from communication, members of this terrorist
organization used the Internet for financing the executors and planners for the
terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers (WTC). As technological
development is becoming increasingly rapid, and within the advancement of
information and communication technologies is most common, it’s clear why
extremists have decided to use social networks and internet as platform for
launching their ideology.
Several different terrorist groups, such as already mentioned ISIS and Al-
Qaida saw the great potential of the internet, especially social media to spread their
ideas. Their goal is to draw attention to people all over the world, try to find people
who share same opinion as them, or radicalize people who, for various reasons, fall
under the influence of extreme ideas.
Besides that, it should be emphasized that the Internet is also used in order
to raise funds that would be able to complete planned activities. Indicative estimates
indicate that five percent of the resources available to ISIS come from donations
that are, among other things, raised by agitating through social networks. But what
is the subject of this presentation is the phenomenon of online radicalization, that is,
the causes, the way, the process, and the consequences of radicalization that has
been fully achieved through the Internet. Large number of young men under the
influence of propaganda on the Internet decided to leave their schools, jobs, and
Prodan. T.: Internet, Terrorism and Counterterrorism, National Security and the Future, 1
(16) 72015, p. 94.
Although such a trend in the post-modern era is the most prominent, we can see that the
phenomenon is not new, but it is only about the latest form of technology use. So, for
example, Russian organizations that fought against monarchy and used terror as a form of
opposing absolutism in their country very soon accepted the use of telegrams to spread their
leave for Syria or Iraq alone or together with their entire family. Numerous changes
in legislation, an increase in the level of cooperation between countries, a tightening
of border controls, a ban on numerous orders on social networks have led to a
reduction of departures to foreign battlefields, but the problem of radicalization is
far from resolved through the Internet.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, by modifying the Criminal Code in the sense of
threatening a prison sentence in case of leaving to the foreign battlefields and
creating a "Bosnia and Herzegovina Strategy for the Prevention and Fight against
Terrorism" that introduces a multidisciplinary approach to the problem, seeks to
limit the activities of radical organizations on its soil and limit the departure to
Due to the fact that online radicalization wasn‘t a decisive form
of radicalization in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is on specifically treated by the
mentioned acts. However, trends that show that ISIL lost most of the territory it
controlled, therefore, the potential number of fighters, intends to pay more attention
to spreading its ideology through the Internet
2. WHY IS ONLINE RADICALIZATION USED AS A METHOD OF
ATTRACTING POTENTIAL EXTREMISTS?
Traditional institutions such as training camps are expensive to maintain
Besides, modern technology allows them to locate and destroy them by the action
of aviation. Trends that show that ISIS loses large parts of the territory reduces the
number of potential locations for organizing such camps.
Asymmetric battlefield on the scene at Middle Eastern battlefields, in which
extremists do not have access to classic media, the increase in the use of social media
by the younger population, cost savings, and the increase in efficiency of action, the
Strategy of Bosnia and Herzegovina for preventing and combating terrorism 2015 - 2020,
=en-HR, [Accessed: 20 Jul 2017]
Available at: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-happens-after-isis-goes-underground-
20881, [Accessed: 20 Jul, 2017]
The loss of most of the oil fields in Syria and Iraq and physical contact with the Turkish
border has drastically reduced ISIS's revenues.
Torok; R.: Developing an Explanatory Model of the Process of Online Radicalization and
Terrorism: Torok Security Informatics, 2(6)/2013. p. 2
reaching of persons who otherwise would not have the opportunity to physically
access are the reasons why online radicalization is a desirable tool for recruiting into
terrorist ranks. Radicalization is not only for the purpose of going on foreign
battlefields, but also to undertake certain activities within the countries in which
reside potential radicalized individuals. Looking from the perspective of terrorist
organizations, this way of recruiting new members for the purposes which they
aspire, it is much more convenient and potentially more fruitful course of action.
Therefore, it is easy to see the ratio for which the terrorist organizations are
increasingly turning to this method.
2.1. Who and how extremists radicalize through the Internet?
Research shows that every online radicalization is, to a certain extent, a self-
. Every person on social networks, of any type, creates a group of
persons, pages or other sources of information that he / she is actively following. By
creating this circle, people within it have the opportunity to meet with the like-
minded people, thus creating an image that the idea that this group prefers has
significant support, which of course does not have to be true and in most cases it is
not true. However, when most realized interactions at some point comes down to
people, like-minded radical like-minded ones, online radicalization has already
advanced and those who work within the specified circle intended for the
recruitment of fighters or for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks classic
type, the job of persuasion becomes a lot easier. In the context of the social response
to the monstrosity of extremism, recognizing this early stage of radicalization in a
young person, it is crucial that the process of deepening would be stopped.
Essentially it is a topic related communities that are common on social
networks. As long as the topic remains current, the community in that focus remains
coherent. Strengthening the element of radicalization of groups associated with the
topic will become smaller, but the ideas advocated by it are increasingly extreme.
By strengthening the element of radicalization, group associated with the topic will
become smaller, but the ideas advocated by it are increasingly extreme. Such
persons become ready to join terrorist organizations, which often have active
members in those groups who are committed to taking concrete steps, including the
preparation of terrorist attacks.
Berger states that "many, perhaps most of the potential recruits, first learn
about ISIS from the media, and only then seek more information on social
This achieved stage of radicalization can take two forms: violent and non-
violent. It is also very important for the issue of financing terrorism, because a
Wadhwa; P., Bathia M.P.S.: An Approach for Dynamic Identification of Online
Radicalization in Social Networks, Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal,
46/2015., p. 643.
Available at: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2015/11/09/how-terrorists-recruit-
online-and-how-to-stop-it/, [Accessed: 15 Jun, 2017]
person may be completely unprepared for terrorist acts, but eager to transfer some
of the money he owns in order to help them realize them in the context of procuring
the necessary means of committing terrorist acts.
Therefore, these are people who
neither intend to go to the battlefield nor become terrorists in their own country.
This phenomenon is not given due attention, especially in the domestic context, in
which the focus is on the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, i.e. people who are violent
extremists, and recently returnees from foreign battlefields.
Consideration should be given regarding conditions that surround a
potential terrorist. Although not even one perpetrator of a terrorist act that happened
after it was radicalized online, it cannot be said that he was completely asocial, it is
evident that they spend more than usual time on the Internet. Groups that form
extremists of different levels are openness to social networks, specifically
Facebook. Some of them appeared again after being removed by the Facebook
administration. When it comes to online radicalization inspired by ISIS's ideology,
the content being published focuses on the presentation of the "Islamic world" as an
occupied, oppressed and humiliated by the West. Furthermore, persons who
participated in terrorist acts lost their lives, they are presented as heroes. For people
who are not radical enough and the rest of these groups, the idea of "Islamic unity"
is used. This idea is something that most Muslims in the world can connect and
therefore become part of every radicalizing agenda.
Recruits use social networks as a space for research. They follow activities
and posts and can, based on them, determine the sentiments of the person who
publishes them. On this basis, they begin the process of approaching this person and
The process of online recruitment and sending them to the battlefield, it is
summarized (Andonov, Mikac & Mamić, 2014):
"As for the forms of mobilization, recruitment, indoctrination and
radicalization for participation in the Syrian conflict, there is a previously
established method of using the Internet and social services on the Internet for this
Sarma M.K.: Risk Assessment and the Prevention of Radicalization from Nonviolence Into
Terrorism, American Psychologist, 72(2)/2017, pg. 279.
Torok; R.: Developing an Explanatory Model of the Process of Online Radicalisation and
Terrorism: Torok Security Informatics, 2(6)/2013. p. 4.
Available at: https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/online-radicalisation/,
[Accessed: 21 Jul, 2017]
purpose. By research we came to the realization that it is taking place in three
phases: the first, initial realization of contacts with the like-minded people, the
recognition of the same ideas and beliefs, and the establishment of personal
contacts; second, direct indoctrination to participate in the Syrian conflict on behalf
of religious initiatives and the protection of "endangered Muslims" in Syria; third,
organizers collect recruits, organize them into smaller groups and accommodate in
so-called camps in which they are waiting for transportation to Syria and intensively
being indoctrinated and radicalized during that period. The first and second stages
take place via the Internet, the third in real life."
2.2 What is the basis for interaction?
Impoverished societies in which, especially for the youth, there is often no
bright future, with quality education, socialization full of content that make life
fulfilled, and also quality religious life, many seek an alternative. Youth is often
angry with parents, society, and all the problems that surround them, which they
cannot solve or influence in any way. Turning to religion as a way of finding peace,
the meaning of life is increasingly more frequent. Here on the scene are extremists
and drivers of radical ideologies. They are consciously targeting those individuals
who have a real intent to actively devote themselves to the practice of religion, and
for this they do not have enough knowledge, so teaching is necessary. Such
individuals act as "fish caught in the net".
The first steps are always inviolable in this way of accepting religious
knowledge. It talks about religion, its history, its religious rules, its moral, its
victims, and so on. The next step is often the position of Muslims currently in the
world, where examples such as "map of wars" can easily be found. Namely, on a
map showing the conflicting, crisis and war areas in the world, it is evident that
more than 90 percent of the same are in the majority Muslim countries. It is
emphasized oppression, "the domination of the West who want to destroy and
enslave Muslims and resources that they have". It talks about the glorious days of
Caliphate and domination in all fields over the rest of the world, especially in the
countries of Western Europe. At this stage, for persons who intends to radicalize
Аndonov; O., Mikac; R, Mamić; K .: The Phenomenon of Foreign Fighters in Syria and
Possible Consequences for Europe, International Studies: Journal of International Relations,
Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, 14 (1) / 2014, p. 51.
creates the impression that someone else is solely to blame for his condition to get
out of this state is the only way getting out by removing the shackles in action.
The view that the potential radicalized person, understood this religious
aspect and the call, says that at this stage radicalization has occurred. Extremists
begin to play the role of a person of trust and more and more enjoy this role. Now
neither the parents, nor the environment nor the previous friends are confidential
and are viewed as a new society. The idea that a person who, because of poverty,
criminal past or alienation from society for any other reason, is completely separated
from his former community.
Social networks are ideal for this purpose, not only
through examples of radicalization, but also other forms of Internet abuse. The
victim of radicalization are constantly being served video material and the numerous
texts that sees and reads, thus absorbing the ideas that once was strange. Already
then, a person becomes a pawn of his mentor and some kind of puppet. At this stage,
the radicalized person the least what can do is to take on the role of radicalization
of others, presenting them with the ideas the person recently accepted, and becomes
the conductor of radical ideas. On the other hand, that person can choose a much
more extreme approach, such as going to the foreign battlefield, for example, in
Syria and Iraq, or to work on the preparation and execution of certain terrorist acts
on the ground of their own country, and possibly to be associated with like-minded
people from the surrounding countries.
The stages of radicalization can be viewed differently in relation to the
country in which they are taking place, and these phases are also different depending
on the way of radicalization, the age of potentially radicalized persons, etc.
However, the basic indicators on the time scale in phases on the path to
radicalization are generally similar to most of the published segments of the
radicalization phase. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) divided this process
in four steps:
Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/who-gets-radicalized-what-i-learned-
from-my-interviews_us_5765fddce4b0ed0729a1c5c3, [Accessed: 23 Jul, 2017]
and the last phase of the action
Online radicalization is specific, especially because it takes place quickly, does
not require a lot of space, time, or resources, it is difficult to discover - that is when
it's discovered it's too late.
In the period 2012-2015, one of the main goals of online radicalization was
the recruitment of new members and sympathizers of the so-called Islamic state
in the West, called "foreign fighters", with the aim of transferring the same
(including juvenile girls) to the Iraq-Syrian battlefield. In that period, hundreds
of young people from the West ended up in conflict zones in Iraq and Syria,
mainly in areas controlled by ISIS. Most of the newly recruited volunteers
became members of terrorist groups, and did not have experience in martial arts,
Federal Bureau of Investigation-FBI: The Radicalization process from Conversion to
Jihad, 2006, p. 4.
some underwent short military training, while others were killed without even
3. HOW TO COUNTER RADICALIZATION?
As can be seen from the previous text, the fight against online radicalization
is certainly much more complex in comparison with its classic forms. This struggle
requires constant engagement and permanent monitoring of many actors, from
social network administration, to social workers working with people who have
become radicalized to a certain degree. Immediately we can see that the opposition
to this monster must take place on several fronts simultaneously with a
multidisciplinary approach. Social networks can work more on prevention and
better detection of content that can lead to radicalization.
The same applies to the profiles from which radicalization is carried out.
YouTube has devised a "redirecting method" that works on the idea that the
person who searches their channel, in order to find extremist content, is actually
being redirected to materials that cancel the mythology of extremism.
global corporations, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter have also reached an
agreement on intensifying joint efforts to develop mechanisms to quickly uncover
hate speech and extremism on the Internet.
Google also announces a doubling of
the number of experts who will work on the problem of online radicalization.
What Google could do further in the context of reducing radicalization is to
change the suggestion when searching for specific words related to Islam. Namely,
there is a common occurrence when looking for terms such as Muslim, Sharia,
, Jihad, etc., as a suggestion appear content posted on the Internet by a radical
However, the fight against online radicalization is not only a social
networking business. A holistic approach is needed, which, among other things,
helps to create better conditions for the life of potential victims of radicalization,
higher-quality religious education, and the prevention of their alienation from
society. Experience has shown that better cooperation is needed between all
investigative agencies, the police, the social work and mental health services and
the non-governmental sector.
The Center for Religion and Geopolitics has discovered that on average in
the UK, extremist content is searched more than 50,000 times a month.
This is a
significant proof that the fight against radicalization cannot be left only on the
shoulders of Internet companies. The plan must be designed and coordinated by
governments, or competent ministries or authorized bodies. When planning a
sequence of actions, it can include the following: mapping the current state, seeing
numerical indicators, identifying key job holders, detecting interference, creating a
Available at: http://globalanalitika.com/neophodan-sistemski-odgovor-na-prevenciju-i-
suprostavljanje-online-radikalizaciji/, [Accessed: 25 Jul, 2017]
Available at: http://globalanalitika.com/google-najavljuje-intenzivniju-borbu-protiv-
ekstremizma/, [Accessed: 25 Jul, 2017]
Not a tekki in a context specific to our language, but a concept present in the Shiite version
of Islam which implies hiding its religious commitment in fear of persecution. This term in
the right-wing terminology has assumed a completely different meaning, and is used in the
sense of the alleged desire of the Muslims to take control.
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/05/opinions/how-to-stop-online-
radicalization-ahmed-opinion/index.html, [Accessed: 26 May, 2017]
strategy with tasks and deadlines, and so on. Therefore, it is necessary to take care
that the rights and freedoms used to protect an individual in their privacy are not
exploited by extremists for their actions. The biggest problem is how to leave these
rights relatively intact, and at the same time make fight against online radicalization
However, while it is true that social media is uniquely empowering to
extremists, what most policymakers and commentators fail to recognize is that
efforts to control IS’s activities online have peaked, Berger says.
Berger states he was among the first and loudest advocates of kicking terrorists off
social media, and that he fought long and hard for years to make people realize that
suspending terrorists’ social media accounts would reduce their reach.
J.M. Berger is an author, analyst and consultant who studies extremism, terrorism,
propaganda and analytical techniques of social media, and an associate of the International
Counter-Terrorism Center based in The Hague.
Available at: https://icct.nl/publication/defeating-is-ideology-sounds-good-but-what-
does-it-really-mean/, [Accessed: 10 Jun, 2017]
If the verified information on the retrograde ideology of ISIS and Al-Qaeda
would be more accessible, together with verified information on religious aspects,
it would probably have achieved a double-major deradicalization. Not only would
the outflow of foreign fighters be reduced, but also the right-wing radicalization,
which manifests itself through Islamophobia and other types of radicalization,
would also be reduced.
In addition to the above recommendations related to the influence and
impact on events in the cyber space, it is necessary to work on the cooperation of
religious communities, local authorities and authorities at higher levels in order to
achieve a high degree of mutual cooperation in the context of the fight against
terrorism and the creation of quality social circumstances for potential extremists,
in order to deter them from further radicalization and to direct them towards active
action for their own and the well-being of their environment.
Ellis; H., Abdi; S .: Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism Through
Genuine Partnerships, American Psychologist, 72 (3) / 2017, p. 297.
4. INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS AND DOCUMENTS
International organizations have created legal and other regulatory acts
aimed at intensifying the fight against extremism and terrorism. Some parts of them
have been incorporated into online radicalization and other forms of action by
extremists on the Internet. Thus, the General Assembly of the United Nations
(hereinafter UN) adopted the 2015 a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
It suggests undertaking a wider investigation of the relationship between the abuse
of the Internet and social networks by violent extremists, as well as the factors
leading drivers of violent extremism.
Given the prominence that IS places on its social media communications,
the EU has sought to confront the group’s use of the Internet for radicalization.
The Convention on Cybercrime of the European Union
procedural preconditions that allowed the investigation and collection of evidence
in the criminal offenses of using the Internet. These provisions apply to any criminal
offense related to computer activities and the collection of evidence in electronic
form, subject to the applicable restrictions prescribed by national laws.
Also, the attitude of UNESCO is clear - the Internet and new ICT
(information - communication technologies) should be a platform for the
establishment and expansion of positive engagement, peace, promotion of respect
for human rights and dignity, facilitation of dialogue and mutual understanding.
United Nations (UN) -General Assembly: A Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism,
New York, 2015, p. 19.
The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) (2016). The Foreign
Fighters Phenomenon in the European Union - Profiles, Threats & Policies. [online] The
Hague, p.19. Available at: https://www.icct.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/ICCT-
AnnexesLinks.pdf [Accessed: 20 Jul, 2017]
Council fo Europe: Convention on Cybercrime, European Treaty Series, 184/2001,
_/7_conv_budapest_en.pdf, [Accessed: 27 Jul, 2017]
Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-
view/news/youth_online_at_risk_fighting_radicalization_extremism_o/; [Accessed: 19 Jun,
5. SITUATION IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
According to a
report by the Ministry of
Security of BiH, 226 adult
citizens of BiH were
staying at foreign
battlefields in Syria and
Iraq, of which 115 are
currently there. Out of the
115 of them, 65 were adult
male, while 56 of them
were females. So far, in the
fights, according to the
December 2016 report, 65
BiH citizens were killed,
while 46 of them returned
to their homeland.
These figures do not include children because some went with their
families. According to intelligence information at the Syrian-Iraqi battlefield, there
are 57 children and juveniles of BiH citizens. Of the 46 people who returned to their
homeland, 20 of them were prosecuted in domestic courts, while the other 26 are at
different stages of the court proceedings. Most of the fighters fought on the side of
ISIS, while the rest was loyal to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly known as al-
Nusra Front). It should be taken into account that numerical indicators may have
deviations, and it is also difficult to get precise data on the number of casualties due
to the chaotic situation in Syria, as well as the lack of organized records for members
of these terrorist groups.
There is no publicly available information to discuss the number and
possible way of radicalization of persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina who have
been radicalized online, or to what extent they have used the Internet for instructions
and communication for the purpose of radicalization. However, from the experience
of some European countries, and following the history and chronology of terrorist
and extremist activities in the world, using analytical and statistical methods, as well
as data on the structure of radicalized people, it is possible to estimate the
approximate percentage of people who are radicalized via the Internet. According
to this assessment, there is a very small number of people from Bosnia and
Herzegovina that was radicalized via the Internet, or that they acquired additional
knowledge for the purpose of radicalization and received other instructions via the
Internet. While in the Western countries where a large number of radicalized
persons were recorded, most radicalization and communication for the purpose of
radicalization was done via the Internet, especially at the peak of the power of the
so-called Islamic state.
According to the official report of the Ministry of Security of BiH for 2016,
there were no new departures of BiH citizens to the foreign battlefields in Syria and
This can also mean the reorientation of the drivers of the process of
radicalization to the increased use of the Internet for the purpose of communication,
as well as achieving its goals in gaining new sympathizers and spreading radical
Legislators in Bosnia and Herzegovina recognized the significance of the threat
of terrorism and related crimes, therefore, several articles have been incorporated
into this Criminal Code who talk about this phenomenon:
• Article 201 - Terrorism
• Article 202 - Financing of terrorist activities;
• Article 202a. - Public incitement to terrorist activities;
• Article 202b - Recruitment for terrorist activities;
• Article 202c - Training for conducting terrorist activities;
• Article 202d - Organizing a terrorist group
In previous jurisprudence in BiH there were no cases of separate processing of
persons responsible for performing online radicalization, and even the need for a
team was noticed, it is questionable how successful these court cases would be
completed. The reason is simple, the area of cyber issues at the level of the state of
BiH is not legally regulated, i.e. there is no specific legal regulation for this area,
nor is there a Cyber Security Strategy at the level of BiH.
Available at: https://www.klix.ba/vijesti/bih/dragan-mektic-zaustavljen-je-odlazak-
drzavljana-bih-na-strana-ratista/170102031, [Accessed: 28 Jul, 2017]
Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Unofficial consolidated text, available at:
https://advokat-prnjavorac.com/zakoni/Krivicni_zakon_BiH.pdf [Accessed: 28 Jul, 2017]
It is important to note that Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) has not adequately
progressed in the cyber security field, nor has it harmonized its legislation
accordingly and still lacks a comprehensive overall strategic approach to address
the issue of cybercrime and cyber security threats.
Namely, just as it is the case
with the security management structure in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the legislation
in the country reflects the complex and decentralized organization of the country.
The existing legislation on the state level that may be related to cyber security only
scarcely and partially addresses relevant issues, and has not fully implemented the
provisions of the international framework it adheres to, such as the Convention on
About the importance of helping to guide the future activities of competent
institutions in the legal regulation of cyber space and compliance with international
regulations related to data protection and cyber space security, are also the results
of the research conducted by the author as part of the implementation of the project
Center for social research Global Analytics
. This research was carried out within
the project Prevention of Violent Extremism and Radicalism in BiH in the Sarajevo
Canton, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and Banja Luka, on a sample of 545 people,
age 15 to 60, where 59.6 percent belong to the first age group ( from 15 to 30 years
of age), while 55.1 percent are female examinees.
The data obtained by this research nevertheless speak of a certain level of
awareness of extremism, radicalization, and security threats that lie in the cyber
space, with 61.6 percent of respondents claiming to be familiar with the meanings
of these terms. What is a somewhat worrying result of this research is the fact that
82.9 percent (Figure 1.) of respondents believe that radicalization of young people
via the Internet and social networks is possible, while 17.1 percent do not consider
it as such. This information, on the one hand, speaks of the raised awareness of BiH
citizens about the potential dangers of cyber space, but also talks about how much
the citizens themselves are aware that online radicalization is quite possible and
European Commission, “Bosnia and Herzegovina 2015 Report”, page 63, available at:
S. Barakovic and J. Barakovic Husic: “’We have Problems for Solutions’: The State of
Cybersecurity in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Information & Security: An International
Journal, vol. 32, 2015, https://procon.bg/system/files/3205_bih_barakovic.pdf
Center for social research Global Analytics - Centar za društveno istraživanje Global
Analitika – http://globalanalitika.com
realistic. It is also clear that young people are the most vulnerable to all forms of
radicalization, and are also the youngest and most common users of the Internet and
Figure 1. Data on the possibility of radicalization of young people via the Internet and social
Based on the facts and data presented in this paper, the following is concluded:
- The estimates of EUROPOL and other relevant international institutions are
moving in the direction that after the defeat of the so-called "Islamic country”,
expect a continuation of radicalization that involves online radicalization through
several ways of acting;
- According to publicly available data in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the radicalization
of persons who went to the Syrian-Iraqi battlefield were mostly conducted through
conventional methods (preaching) by radical authorities;
- taking into consideration the psycho-social aspect, the deradicalization of
radicalized persons is not possible by using online tools;
- Lack of state strategy or legal regulation of criminal activities in cyber space,
including online radicalization.
In accordance with the conclusions and results of the research, the authors have
made the following:
The development of counter-narratives that certain social networks seek to
create in the fight against radicalization are a good way and practice. A
similar way of reacting to online radicalization is possible in BiH, with
respect to technical capacities.
Besides this, as part of a comprehensive approach to the prevention and
suppression of online radicalization, it is crucial to pay full attention to
research, by using various methods of research (including research of the
Internet, as well as interviews with persons who have experienced online
radicalization, research from other studies, the online survey of online
radicalization, organization of professional workshops, etc.).
Furthermore, online radicalization, for the sake of easier recognition, should
be clearly defined and explained in the legislative framework, as well as the
strategies adopted in the framework of anti-terrorism strategies.
Therefore, it is necessary to actively involve non-governmental
organizations, especially those dealing with issues of promoting security
and non-violence, in order to work with the local community to raise
awareness among young people about the problem of prevention of online
Cooperation between competent state structures, non-governmental
organizations, centers for social work and mental health is also necessary,
on the early detection of potentially radicalized young people.
Also, it is necessary to ensure better international cooperation, using the
"learned lesson" of other countries, and also to improve and develop
regulations that apply to Internet service providers.
1. Аndonov; O., Mikac; R, Mamić; K.: Phenomenon of Foreign Fighters in Syria and
Possible Consequences for Europe, International Studies: Journal of International
Relations, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, 14 (1) / 2014.
2. S. Barakovic and J. Barakovic Husic: “’We have Problems for Solutions’: The State
of Cybersecurity in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Information & Security: An
International Journal, vol. 32, 2015, Available at:
https://procon.bg/system/files/3205_bih_barakovic.pdf, [Accessed: 18 Aug, 2017]
3. Ellis; H., Abdi; S.: Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism Through
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in Syria and Iraq, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 38 (1) / 2015,
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Nonviolence Into Terrorism, American Psychologist, 72 (2) / 2017,
7. The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) (2016): The
Foreign Fighters Phenomenon in the European Union - Profiles, Threats &
Policies. [online] The Hague, Available: https://www.icct.nl/wp-
EU_1-April-2016_including-AnnexesLinks.pdf [Accessed: 20.07.2017]
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Terrorism: Torok Security Informatics, 2 (6) / 2013,
9. Wadhwa; P., Bathia M.P.S.: An Approach for Dynamic Identification of Online
Radicalization in Social Networks, Cybernetics and Systems: An International
II STRATEGIES, LEGAL REGULATIONS AND DOCUMENTS:
1. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI): The Radicalization Process from
Conversion to Jihad, 2006
2. Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Unofficial consolidated text, available
at: https://advokat-prnjavorac.com/zakoni/Krivicni_zakon_BiH.pdf. [Accessed: 28
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina Strategy for Prevention and Combating Terrorism,
&langTag=en-HR, [Accessed: 20 Jul, 2017]
III INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS:
1. Council for Europe: Convention on Cybercrime, European Treaty Series,
184/2001, available at:
budapest_/7_conv_budapest_en.pdf, [Accessed: 27 Jul, 2017]
2. European Commission, “Bosnia and Herzegovina 2015 Report”, Available:
a_and_herzegovina.pdf [Accessed: 30 Sept, 2017]
3. United Nations (UN) - General Assembly: A Plan of Action to Prevent Violent
Extremism, New York, 2015
IV INTERNET SOURCES:
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