Special Issue on IT and Terrorism

Along with Winston Koh (Singapore Management University) and Aris Ouksel (University of Illinois at Chicago), I have edited a special issue on IT and Terrorism for Technology Forecasting and Social Change.

Citation: Desouza, K.C., Koh, W.T.H., Ouksel, A.M. “Information Technology, Innovation and the War on Terrorism,” Technology Forecasting and Social Change, 74 (2), 2007, 125-128.

Here is a portion of the introduction:

The horrific scale of destruction of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has ushered in a period of global uncertainty on various fronts: political, economic, military and technological. In essence, terrorism involves the use of violence to achieve political objectives, by deliberately trying to inflict mass casualties or cause other forms of costly damage against civilian populations. It is a form of psychological warfare, as the terrorist acts are designed to frighten targeted populations and attract global attention. Terrorism may also be viewed as theatre to focus attention on terrorists’ aims and incite discontented masses.

The use of the term “war on terrorism” has a political basis. Terrorism is a means rather than an end. It is a tactic being used by extremist Moslems who, at the moment, see it as their most effective tool in countering the Western democracies. There is, of course, a long history of Islamic confrontation with the West and the U.S. war in Iraq has once more shown the glaring disparity in military strength between the two sides. Terrorism is now a significant weapon for the radical Islamists as the inevitable response to it draws more moderate fellow Moslems to their side, furthering their long-term aim of a resuscitated Islamic caliphate. The term “war on radical Islamism” would therefore be more appropriate; although it is being avoided by the Bush Administration. This special issue confines itself to the narrower subject of dealing with the terrorism threat from a technological viewpoint, analogous to analysis of means to counter Soviet ICBMs in the Cold War. It does not address the larger problem of strategies to confront radical Islamism.

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