Assessing Against and Moving Past the "Funnel" Model of Counterterrorism Communication

Published in: Defence Strategic Communications (2016), pages 26-40

Posted on RAND.org on July 03, 2019

by Christopher Paul, Elizabeth L. Petrun Sayers

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Many countries have embarked on a wide range of efforts designed to diminish extremist violence. One prominent category of such activities is counterterrorism communication, which includes various forms of engagement focused on diminishing the appeal of violent extremist ideology and disrupting paths to radicalization, with the ultimate goal of reducing support for, and incidence of, terrorist violence. In the past decade, terrorists and acts of terrorism have proliferated. Through numerous forms of media, terrorists are embracing new opportunities to spread the psychological impact of terrorism throughout the world, to provoke outrage, and to rally supporters and recruits. Terrorism today involves not only violence, but also theatre, where attention is paid to script preparation, sets, props, role-playing, minute-by-minute stage management, and flashy YouTube videos. To respond to this evolving reality, counterterrorism communication adds nuance to the traditional, or kinetic, approach of detaining and killing terrorists to thwart their efforts. In addition to detaining, killing, and physically constraining their ability to arrive at and attack targets, mixed approaches also seek to limit terrorists' access to conventional mass media, reduce and censor news coverage of terrorist acts and their perpetrators, and minimize the terrorists' capacity for and the effects of media manipulation.

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