Article co-authored by Yotam Ophir and Gabriel Weimann in the journal Perspectives on Terrorism, 6(1), 2012.
The great virtues of the Internet - ease of access, lack of regulation, vast potential audiences, and fast flow of information, among others - have been exploited by terrorist groups. Consequently, the Internet has become a useful and effective platform for terrorist organizations and their supporters. Applying para-social relationships theory, this study examines the ways terrorist groups utilize the Internet to gain sympathy and support for their appeals and goals. The case of ETA’s website (ETA - Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, an armed Basque nationalist and separatist organization), dedicated to Basque prisoners imprisoned in Ireland and fighting extradition to Spain, is used as an illustrative example of the applicability of the para-social theorem. The various tactics adopted for establishing and promoting para-social relationships between media characters and the audiences as revealed in Basque terrorist video clips on YouTube are analyzed.