Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2014

The Cyber Extremism Orbital Pathways Model

Omer Ali Saifudeen

November 2014

S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies


The starting premise of this study is that internet-based communications possess unique characteristics that warrant the need to have a discrete pathway model to explain online radicalisation. This online radicalisation pathway model would especially apply to the growing communities of young netizens whose socio-psychological makeup is shaping a “new normal” in the way we exchange information and interact. The proposed Cyber Extremism Orbital Pathways Model (CEOP) describes how online cognitive radicalisation can move towards real-world violent extremism. The model also elucidates the multitude of competing forces in cyberspace that promote or impede such radicalisation and what this means for online counter-radicalisation strategies. The CEOP model is based on inferences made from content and discourse analysis of extremist narratives on the internet and current studies about internet-based communications. The research took into account distinctive factors that made internet-based messaging more persuasive and this includes the effects of crowdsourcing. Finally, the CEOP model suggests how the same persuasive communication strategies used on the internet by extremists can be conversely used to counter online radicalisation.