Cyber-fatwas and terrorism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1989, the term fatwa became globally known, following Ayatollah Khomeini's deathfatwa issued on Salman Rushdie for his novel, Satanic Verses. Today, the Internet has become a useful platform for posting of fatwas and interpretations of fatwas. The present article highlights the use of jihadist fatwas, and especially online fatwas, as a major instrument in bridging the current wave of terrorism and religion. The analysis, based on a database collected in a 12-year-long project of monitoring thousands of terrorist websites, illustrates how cyber-fatwas are related to key issues in promoting terrorism: justifying the use of suicide terrorism, the killing of innocents, the killing of children and women, the killing of Muslims or the use of various weapons (including weapons of mass destruction and cyberterrorism). There are two implications of the trends documented in this study: First, the analysis of the online fatwas and the fatwa wars may provide insight about the terrorists, their motivations, their doubts and fears and, secondly, it may guide countercampaigns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-781
Number of pages17
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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