Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Mass Media and Terrorism: Double Potentials

Our Age is the age of information. The information revolution reached its peak in the second half of the 20th century. It influences all spheres of our society and prompts social transformation. One of the consequences of social transformation due to media influence is, its openness and greater availability of information. There is another social phenomenon totally opposite to this: terrorism. In all its contemporary attributes, media like terrorism have a double potential: Firstly, they can boost terrorism; secondly, they can encounter terrorism. Also, Terrorism- in all its contemporary attributes has a double potential: firstly, it represents a global threat; secondly, it influences the transformation of contemporary societies. The mega terrorism is one of the products of information revolution that has spurred the development of society in the direction of openness and new communication possibilities.
Debates on the role by the mass media on terrorism both in terms of tackling and promoting it, should be included in contemporary terrorism research. It is well known, terrorists seek first to manipulate the media for their own purposes by sending messages of violence in order to achieve mass publicity. Therefore, it is necessary for the governments to include national and international media in their counter terrorist strategies. Doing so, they will ensure media will play their role as the basic means of information provision to the people and also will prevent the terrorists to manipulate the media as their tool to spread fear and terror among the people in an exaggerated manner. However, according to the democratic values, media in these countries should not be expected to react upon direct inquiry or request of the country violating their unbiased values on information provision.
Determining how could a contemporary society respond on terrorism and to identify how it could do, are the challenging issues that are not easy to be addressed. Indeed, societies react on terrorism in different manners, and it is important to identify how democratic societies should respond to terrorism, especially keeping in mind the freedom of media and vulnerability of them not to be manipulated by the terrorists. In doing so, the governments should pay special attention to the role of media, as the most influential means for transmission and dissemination of information, as the strategic tools of both terrorist and antiterrorist measures in our contemporary era.
As a matter of fact, scientific and expert contribution in research on terrorism should be emphasized, and also it requires special attention on studying correlation between mass media and terrorism. It can ensure achieve a balance between country interests and the segment of national safety and citizens’ rights for freedom of speech and the right to information.
One of the other important issues that calls for special attention is protection of the mass media. As media can shape the thought and way the society react to various social phenomena, including terrorism, those media that focus on encountering terrorists and providing information on the real nature of the terrorist groups, would always be considered as the main targets by the terrorists. The governments shall include protection of the mass media in their strategies and consider realistic mechanisms to ensure protecting the rights of journalists and safeguard conditions for the freeoperations of the mass and their safety. In our country, preventing the media not to be manipulated by the terrorists and also protecting them against the threats of the terrorists is a critical issue. Our mass media both have been manipulated by the terrorist groups and also they have repeatedly been targeted by the terrorists. Just on Monday, 3oth April, 26 people died in the two blasts, which were claimed by Islamic State. And since 2001, according to the Afghanistan Journalists Safety Committee, at least 80 journalists and media workers have been killed working in the country.
Mass media both can act as a counter terrorism tools and terrorism expansion ones.. The mass media has played a great role in educating the Afghan society. They have repeatedly been targeted by the terrorist groups that show the significance of the role of the media in encountering the terrorists in Afghanistan. Due to this dual nature of the mass media, the government of Afghanistan should take specific measures to protect the mass media and create conducive conditions for them to recharge their duties as the transition and transformation of the information to the citizens of Afghanistan and also shall take specific measures to prevent terrorists to manipulate them in the country.