Home » Archivio » Issue 18 | 2023

Issue 18 | 2023

Terrorism & Digital Ecosystems

Federico Borgonovo, Giulia Porrino, Silvano Rizieri Lucini, Propaganda Hybridation: pmc wagner exploitation of islamic state content


The PMC Wagner is one of the main players that emerged during the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. The study aims to investigate the presence of communicative hybridisation in the communication of the PMC Wagner on Telegram. The study is based on a case study of a channel exploiting pro-IS propaganda and jihadist visual motifs with more than 100,000 subscribers. The analysis of the content related to the channel shows a good understanding of IS propaganda: those replicate the style of IS propaganda and are used to disseminate pro-Russia materials. Through the communicative hybridisation, the target audience expands to include extremist Muslims galvanized by jihadist propaganda and PMC Wagner veterans who fought in the civil war in Syria and who came into contact with the violent subculture typical of the Islamic State. The exploitation by PMC Wagner of different forms of communicative extremism is a phenomenon to be monitored as this strategy allows content to be modulated through styles, languages, and visual motifs.


PMC Wagner, Jihad, Propaganda, Telegram, Media House

Ali Fisher, Time to be realistic about Swarmcast 2.0: How terrorists use WhatsApp


This article addresses two significant gaps in the current literature. First it challenges the orthodox claims that Salafi-Jihadi are forced to use smaller platforms because of the success of ‘deplatforming’ strategies adopted by so-called internet giants and second it does this by highlighting the significant presence of Salafi-Jihadi networks on WhatsApp. With over two billion users, WhatsApp is an social giant by any estimation. 

Through the discussion of the networks on WhatsApp, the article demonstrates that while the Western metanarrative has long been accepted by the orthodoxy of Terrorism Studies, and is still resonates at events hosted by industry funded bodies, the challenge encapsulated by Swarmcast2.0 remains. Salafi-Jihadi groups and the media mujahidin maintain persistent networks which function across multiple platforms simultaneously, including networks on the some of the largest platforms. 

The paper argues for greater attention to be paid to an authentic understanding of the ways Salafi-Jihadi communicate shared meaning and maintain networks. It concludes, concludes there is a need for significantly greater understanding of the way Salafi-Jihadi networks are still able to operate on the largest platforms, requiring an understanding of dynamic networks in addition to the static content files they share.


Swarmcast; networks; Salafi-Jihadi; terrorism; platforms;

Francesco Balucani – Fabio Ottaviani, L’Italia alla prova del fondamentalismo radicale islamico. Indagine sul polimorfismo della minaccia terroristica e analisi ragionata dell’ordinamento giuridico italiano in materia di antiterrorismo. Parte seconda


This publication aims to analyze the most relevant features of today’s islamic terrorism, to list the critical issues that this kind of threath poses both in a strategic and a legal dimension, to examine the peculiarities and the attributes of the Italian legal system in terms of national security and counter-terrorism, and finally to analyze this issue in terms of international cooperation. The polymorphism and the irreducibility to pre-established schemes that have always distinguished the threath of terrorism require us to carry out an analysis free from generalizations, focused both on present days – foreign fighters, nuclear terrorism, Jihad 2.0, terrorism transnational – and historical past. Although in recent years the incidence of islamic terrorism has decreased more and more, probably as a consequence of the progressive dismantling of the Islamic State and the intensification of American search and destroy campaigns, conducted throught high-altitude military drones, satellite technologies and intelligence operations, we believe that it is appropriate to maintain high standards of security, since new potential threats may arrive unexpectedly and without great possibilities for prediction. The roots of the problem remain substantially unresolved – Islamic religious demands, the presence of political regimes close to the most extremist currents of the Islamic religion, the marginalization of Muslim populations within the global society, the presence of inter-ethnic conflicts and civil wars in regions of the world already affected by phenomena of poverty and by the externalities of climate change – and so it is possible that in the future the containment policies of Western societies may no longer be enough to contain the pressures arising from a a problem that we have repressed and suffocated, but certainly not completely eradicated. In any case, this period of calm could also be used to address the unresolved issues related to the definition of terrorism on an international level and the dilemmas of interstate cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism and intelligence, which may compromise the effectiveness of the policies to contain the terrorist threat developed both nationally and internationally. The following publication is divided into two parts, or sections: in the first one, which has been included in the past issue of the journal, we have dealt with the issues mentioned above, while in the second, which you are about to read, we will analyse in depth the protection of national security in the Italian legal system.


Terrorismo, fondamentalismo jihadista, antiterrorismo, sicurezza nazionale, intelligence, cooperazione internazionale, terrorism, jihadism, counter-terrorism, homeland security, intelligence, international cooperation

Evolving security issues & perspectives

Giacomo Buoncompagni, Within the informative-cultural chaos. Migration issue, national politics and anti-Jewish conspiracy


Among the various phenomena of hostility and aggression towards different groups, anti-Semitism has become increasingly prevalent in Europe in recent years.

Considering recent crises and the emergence of collective traumas, hate crimes and novel forms of anti-Semitism have materialized in political discourse and the digital sphere. This is due to the public and interactive nature of new information technologies.

The phenomenon of neo-anti-Semitism highlight’s identity issues in multicultural societies, specifically difficulties comprehending other cultures and histories or more recent transformations. This has significantly eroded the relationship between the public sphere and online societies, while at the same time encouraging anti-Semitic sentiments, conspiracy theories, infodemics, new forms of racism and denialism that are difficult to report even in the media. The overall objective of this study is to investigate the coverage of anti-migrant hate and obscured types of anti-Semitism. Despite being distinct topics, both are linked by the presence of stereotypical, occasionally aggressive, and confused narratives in the public discourse. Journalism frequently fails to identify and rectify these narratives, thus perpetuating information disorder.


Migration; conspiracy; journalism; media; discrimination; hate speech, migrazione; cospirazione; giornalismo; media; discriminazione; discorso di odio

Kamil Yilmaz, Hate speech predicts engagement on social media: A case study from Turkey


What drives engagement on social media has been the focus of social scientific inquiry especially in recent years. Among various established predictors of virality on social media are emotional language, language about in- and out-groups, and notions of positivity and negativity.  In light of prior work, this study explores whether hate speech in the form of demonization of a social group is associated with engagement on social media by using a case study from Turkey: The Gülen Movement (GM), a once-admired social movement that has been going through a decade-long demonization, stigmatization, criminalization and persecution. The results show that demonizing language against GM (a specific out-group) is a strong predictor of virality in three of the largest social media platforms in Turkey’s social media ecosystem: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The results also show that demonizing language about a specific out-group has the largest effect size compared to other well-established predictors of virality such as the moral-emotional language, language about the in-group and language about the (general) out-group.


Hate speech, demonization, social-media, specific out-group, Gülen Movement, Turkey

Barbara Lucini, Medical Intelligence: definizione, metodi, prospettive e gruppo nazionale Medint


This paper, for the first time in Italy, offers a reflection on the theme of Medical Intelligence which has become increasingly crucial over the last few years, due to the occurrence of events such as the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Israeli-Palestinian war; all events which possess characteristics of interdependence, mutual influence and high levels of uncertainty and complexity.

The focus of this paper concerns not only an innovative definition of Medical Intelligence and its specific areas of study, but also the consideration of the possibilities it offers in revising the intelligence process, in light of the impact of new technologies and the characteristics of emerging threats. 

Specific attention will then be devoted to the establishment and launch of the national Medical Intelligence group at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. 

Finally, perspectives and lines of work that are already being developed to continue to expand the knowledge of Medical Intelligence in a rapidly changing world will be proposed.


Medical Intelligence, Medint, Intelligence, Covid-19, pandemics

Rene D. Kanayama, Dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh – A Local Conflict with Global Implications


Early 2022 unleashing the chain of internationally significant events and starting the new era of struggle over the geopolitical control of key parts of the world by most of the superpowers, the number of new conflicts with legacy roots continues to emerge in 2023. The Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union has always been prone to the bloodiest kinds of inter-regional and inter-ethnic conflict throughout the past several hundreds of years, and the clash between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region of Nagorno Karabakh has proven to be of no exception.

While the chaos following the demise of the Soviet Union in early 1990’s saw multiple military conflicts in many of its former domain – from Moldova to Georgia, to Tajikistan’s full-fledged civil war as well as localized ethnic skirmishes in other parts of the Central Asia, the Nagorno Karabakh issue has probably been the most prolific and seemingly never-ending throughout the past thirty years.

Even though the United Nations resolution viewed the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as an unlawful occupation of Azerbaijan’s territory by Armenia, the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, consisting entirely of the ethnic Armenian population continued to relatively flourish for most of the thirty years between 1991 and 2023, and in the last decade of its existence (recognized only by other internationally unrecognized entities of the former Soviet Union), it managed to attract international attention especially in its tourism sector.

The ultimate Azerbaijan’s supremacy over the territory of Nagorno Karabakh, following the so-called Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in September 2020 and culminating by full take-over of all remaining territory populated by the Armenians in September 2023, needs to be seen not only as a result of a significant economic rise of Azerbaijan propelled by its natural resources, but also as a consequence of other regional strifes often more important for the superpowers eyeing the control of the region. Most notably, the strong and strategic relationship between Azerbaijan and Israel, forged on the background of international isolation of Iran and countering many of the Iran’s regional geopolitical ambitions, is, in the opinion of the author, one of the key elements deserving attention and analysis.

Rather than providing another outline of the individual periods of this long-term dispute with roots even before the demise of the Soviet Union – the topic to which manifold academic treatises have been dedicated in the past thirty years – the article focuses on the comparative implications of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with other regional conflicts looming in its vicinity, taking into account the extremely fast revolving nature of today’s international relations, where new pacts sometimes inexplicably and unexpectedly replace the former alliances.


Azerbaijan, Armenia, Caucasus, Ethnic Discord, Regional Security, Global Conflict

Sara Brzogyny; Terrorism; Radicalization; Locus of Control.

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