Digital World War Islamists, Extremists, and the Fight for Cyber Supremacy Haroon Ullah

Publication date:
24 Oct 2017
Yale University Press
320 pages: 210mm
12 b-w illus.

Haroon K. Ullah, a scholar and diplomat with deep knowledge of Islamic politics and digital innovation, draws the first clear picture of the unprecedented impact of online networks across the Middle East, North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.
Social media has dominated the discourse surrounding recent events in the Muslim world—from the seismic events of the Arab Spring and its aftermath, to ISIS’s slick online recruitment and digitally documented campaign of terror, to the ongoing civil war and tragedy in Syria and Iraq, as well as instability in Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Afghanistan. Yet there has been little useful insight into the actual roles currently played by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a plethora of other social media in these countries. Lacking, too, is any analysis of the use of the dark web, cyber tracking, hacking, encryption, and digital attacks by both state and non-state actors.  
Haroon Ullah investigates the growth of the full range of social media in the region and explores how far it has penetrated into these societies. He considers its apparently inherently “democratic,” anti-establishment revolutionary impact, as well as how religious conservatives and extremists have co-opted various platforms. And he shows the ways in which political parties, multinational corporations, charities, and sitting governments have learned to exploit digital tools to target and mobilize particular audiences, grow their brands, disseminate messages, and ultimately achieve power and status.
Digital World War demonstrates how social media has profoundly changed relationships between regimes and peoples, and within populations—mostly, but not always, for the better. Ullah identifies key trends across the Muslim world, and outlines what a proper understanding of social media can teach us about regional and international politics and diplomacy.

Dr. Haroon K. Ullah is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State at the US Department, with a special portfolio on digital strategy, countering violent extremism, and transmedia engagement. He teaches at Georgetown University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His previous award-winning books include Vying for Allah’s Vote and The Bargain from the Bazaar.