Senior Researcher and Project Manager, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel
Dr. Michael Barak is a researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) of Lauder School of Government Diplomacy and Strategy, at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, and serves as the Team Leader of the Global Jihad & Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group and the Team Research Manager of the ICT Cyber-Desk In addition, He teaches as well in IDC courses on Terrorism and Islamic radical movements.
Dr. Michael also serves a researcher and a member of the Social Media Networks in the Arab World (Beehive) research board at The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies (MDC) in Tel Aviv University (TAU).
Prior to his current post he was the Team Leader of the Arabic, Turkish & Persian Online Media at The Arabic Press Archive of MDS, and a researcher assistant on Palestinian issues at the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at TAU .
He has been teaching Spoken and Colloquial Arabic for more than a decade at various institutes including the Arabic Language department at TAU, the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel, as well others.
Dr. Barak holds both a B.A. and an M.A. degree in “Middle Eastern Studies” and “Arabic Language” from Tel Aviv University. He has finished his PhD at the School of History in Middle Eastern and African Studies, TAU. His PhD dissertation is concerned with “Sufism in Wahhabi and Salafi Polemic Discourse in Egypt and the Mashriq (Arab East) 1967-2001”.
He has published several articles in Hebrew and English on Modern Salafism and Sufism in Egypt and on prominent trends in the Social Media Networks in the Arab World. He has lectured in several research forums including the IDC, TAU, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
He has participated in several international programs including: “Study of Turkish Language and Culture” at Boğziçi University, Istanbul (2006) and “Study of the US National Security Policymaking” at the Institute for Training & Development (Amherst), USA (2014).
The terrorist attack that took place in the beginning of June by an Islamic State (IS) supporter of Somali origin in Melbourne, Australia, proves that the Muslim community in Australia continues to be a target for incitement, whether in the public arena or on social networks, by the IS and Al-Qaeda. Only recently did Turkish authorities report that their list of terrorist operatives included 40 Australian citizens who had crossed the Turkish border to Iraq or Syria, and that from 2014-2016 there was a significant jump of 350% in the recruitment of Muslims from Australia to Islamic terrorist organizations.
The Telegram application has been commonly used by global jihadist elements since the end of 2015 due to its encryption and secure use, and in light of the increased closure of jihadist accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Telegram serves as a central platform for imparting and disseminating the ideology of terrorist organizations, managing propaganda and psychological warfare, creating an online arena for the sharing of information and the exchange of ideas on various topics, such as religious legal, public and cyber issues, and more. The “Bot Mujahideen” Telegram Channel, which is closely associated with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front), stands out in this context in light of its role as a centralized online interface that provides information on a wide range of topics for jihad fighters in Syria.
The shooting attack carried out by the Islamic State (IS) at a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve is another example of the organization's efforts to undermine Turkey’. In the first three months of 2016 alone, Turkish security agencies foiled 80 attempted terrorist attacks by IS fighters and arrested over 3,506 suspects, including 1,531 people of foreign nationalities. The rise in the number of Turkish Air Force strikes, and the invasion of Turkish troops into northern Syria in order to purge the area of an IS presence, has sparked vigorous dialogue among IS fighters and strengthened their motivation to carry out additional attacks inside Turkey.