Abstract: Al-Qaeda‘s retreat into the virtual world of networks has resulted in the mystification of its organisational structure. Studying the history of this organisation through the perspective of its communication practices can, however, clarify its structure. To understand Al-Qaeda now, this thesis asks: If there are links between Al-Qaeda‘s usage of Converged Communication Technologies (CCTs) and changes within its organisational structure, then how may a history of Al-Qaeda help explain the significance of those links? The research discovers that Al- Qaeda‘s decentralisation was made possible even before its timely harnessing of CCTs during the 1990s. Thereafter, Al-Qaeda‘s usage of these communication technologies only assisted in pushing its already decentralised network into the virtual world. By charting Al-Qaeda‘s history of expanding decentralisation, this thesis identifies a clear and present danger: ‘the Al-Qaeda effect‘ – wherein individuals encounter terrorism in virtual reality, before attempting to do some in bloody actuality.
Author: Vicnesh Nadarajah
Supervisor: Dr Jonathon Smith