Sunday, May 6, 2007

Combating Al-Qaeda On The Internet

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside


While combating terrorist activity on the ground involves monitoring, capturing and killing those involved, these same methods are useless against propaganda sites created by Islamist sympathizers on the internet. Part of the War on Terror is understanding the impact these sites can have, and here's a look into the U.S battle against Islamist sites:
Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, said that the Internet has created a "largely borderless world."

"Internet chat rooms are now supplementing and replacing mosques, community centers, and coffee shops as venues for recruitment and radicalization by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda," he said.

To fight that, Cilluffo outlined a number of tactics for tapping into the online community and using its very nature to US advantage.

For one, "it is possible that an intelligence officer posing as a sympathizer could infiltrate an online extremist community," he said. "Seeds of confusion, doubt, and distrust could then be planted in order to chip away at the ties that bind individual extremists into a cohesive and dangerous group."

Other tactics that he proposed included "deepen[ing] our understanding of the process of radicalization."

...

"Attempts to shut down Web sites have proven as fruitless as a game of whack-a-mole. An open society in the information age offers opportunities for asymmetric warfare that cannot be taken away, only countered."

Felter said that militants use the satellite mapping site Google Earth to plan attacks in Iraq, and gather specifications on US tactical vehicles used in Iraq based on the manufacturers' Web sites, techniques that US intelligence can use, too.
"Know your enemy - read what the terrorists are telling us online," he said.

 
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