Call to invest in human resources and technology to prevent the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes

The use of the internet for terrorist purposes creates both challenges and opportunities in the fight against terrorism, said former FIA Director General Sanaullah Abbasi.

Speaking to The News on Saturday, he said it was a new but very difficult area. Everything has moved to cyberspace, but in Pakistan it’s in transition, said Abbasi, who has a doctorate in law.

“We need to invest heavily in this area to meet the challenges in the context of human resources, technology and infrastructure.”

The way forward is to change the law to include and balance security, human rights, mass awakening, more investment, international cooperation, cyber attacks and virtual currency.

The former FIA chief shared his research on terrorism via the internet, said that since the late 1980s the internet has proven to be a very dynamic means of communication, reaching ever-growing audiences around the world. The development of increasingly sophisticated technologies has created a network with truly global reach and relatively low barriers to entry.

Internet technology makes it easy for an individual to communicate with loved ones anonymously, quickly and efficiently across borders, with an almost unlimited audience, he said, adding that using the Internet for terrorists creates both challenges and opportunities in the fight against terrorism. .

Abbasi said that for the purposes of this publication, a functional approach has been taken regarding the classification of the means by which the Internet is often used to support acts of terrorism.

This approach led to the identification of six sometimes overlapping categories: propaganda (including recruitment, radicalization and incitement to terrorism); funding; training; planning (including through secret communications and open source information); execution; and cyberattacks.

Each of these categories is further discussed as propaganda which includes recruitment, incitement and radicalization. Other aspects are financing, training, planning, preparatory covert communication, publicly available information, execution, cyberattacks, uses of the Internet to counter terrorist activities, and state considerations. by right.

The former FIA DG said terrorist use of the internet is a transnational problem, requiring an integrated response across borders and between national criminal justice systems. The United Nations plays a central role in this regard, facilitating discussion and sharing of good practices among Member States, as well as the search for consensus on common approaches to combat the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. .

Intelligence gathering

The tools used in the commission of terrorist offenses involving the Internet and advances in technology have provided many sophisticated means by which terrorists can use the Internet for illicit purposes.

The effectiveness of Internet activity investigations relies on a combination of traditional investigative methods, knowledge of the tools available to conduct illicit activities via the Internet, and the development of targeted practices to identify, apprehend and prosecute perpetrators. such acts.

A case from France illustrates how different types of investigative techniques, both traditional and specifically related to digital evidence, are employed in unison to gather the evidence needed to successfully prosecute the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes. .

Investigating and prosecuting cases involving digital evidence requires specialized criminal investigation skills, as well as the expertise, knowledge and experience to apply those skills in a virtual environment. Although the admissibility of evidence is ultimately a matter of law and therefore within the jurisdiction of prosecutors, investigators should be familiar with the legal and procedural requirements for establishing admissibility for national and international investigations.

A good working knowledge of the requirements of the applicable rules of evidence, and in particular with respect to digital evidence, promotes the collection of sufficient admissible evidence by investigators to support the successful prosecution of a case. For example, the procedures used to collect, store and analyze digital evidence must ensure that a clear “chain of custody” has been maintained from the time it was first secured, so that it does not could not have been altered from the moment of their entry. until its final production in court.

Internet-based communication includes voice over Internet protocol, email, online messaging services and chat rooms, file sharing networks, and cloud technology. Other investigations include data encryption and anonymization techniques, wireless technology, investigation of terrorist cases involving the Internet, a systematic approach to investigations involving the Internet, tracing an IP address, utilities and specialized investigative hardware, forensic data preservation and recovery, and authentication support. digital evidence.

Cybercrime operational units include national or regional cybercrime units, computer forensic triage, intelligence gathering and training units.


The role of prosecutors in prosecuting terrorism cases has become increasingly complex and demanding. In addition to responsibility for the conduct of criminal proceedings, prosecutors are increasingly involved in the investigative and intelligence-gathering phases of terrorism cases, providing advice or oversight on the legal and strategic implications of various techniques of investigation. ‘investigation.

In this chapter, the role of prosecutors in terrorism cases involving the use of the Internet by terrorists is examined, with a view to identifying, from a prosecutor’s perspective, common challenges or obstacles and strategies and approaches that have proven effective in successfully prosecuting perpetrators.

Cooperation with the private sector

Although the responsibility for combating the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes ultimately rests with Member States, the cooperation of key private sector stakeholders is crucial for effective execution. The network infrastructure for Internet services is often wholly or partly owned by private entities. Similarly, private companies typically own the social media platforms that facilitate the dissemination of user-generated content to large audiences, as well as popular Internet search engines, which filter content based on criteria provided by the user. ,

cooperation with government authorities, data retention, websites and other platforms hosting user-generated content, internet search engines, monitoring services, public-private partnerships.

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