Thursday, May 10, 2007

Terrorists Plan To Use The Internet To Scare Us To Death

Nearly overlooked among last week's clutter, Beverley Lumpkin of The Associated Press reached us via Australia with news of a report that claims the Keyboard is the new Kalashnikov! And it looks serious:
EXTREMIST Islamic groups have come to value the internet for its ability to spread their message so much that some have said the keyboard is as important as a Kalashnikov rifle, a report for the US Congress says.

The report, to be presented to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday, says terrorists have increased their use of the internet to make their activities faster, cheaper and more secure.

Use of the internet for communications, propaganda and research has grown to include recruitment and training, says the report prepared by a panel of experts brought together by George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute and the University of Virginia's Critical Incident Analysis Group.
Of course the Pentagon doesn't use the internet for communications or research, let alone propaganda, so we're talking about a one-way fight here. No wonder we're losing. Where's the Pentagon on this? Where's the propaganda?
The report found that terrorists have used the internet in a variety of new ways, including:

* "Dead drops": An email message is saved as a draft rather than being sent. Anyone with access can log in and read the message, but it is less likely to be intercepted by authorities.
In fact this is what the so-called Fertilizer Bombers were doing when the British authorities decided to grab them, according to the story. It was even one of the reasons they were arrested. Why should we be worried about terrorists getting away with a technique that got other terrorists busted three years ago? Because we should, that's why!
* "Parasiting": Training manuals can be hidden deep inside seemingly innocent subdirectories on legitimate web sites.
That's for sure. Training manuals can be left in a car at Logan Airport, too. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. But it really doesn't prove anything.

And guess what? Documents can be encrypted and hidden within other files, too. Lots of things can be done. Is it worth getting all worked up about it? Yes!
* Research: Terrorists can research potential targets online, using both text and imagery.
Quick! Let's remove all pictures and descriptions of all potential targets. That would be a good waste of money.
* Fundraising: Terrorists can launch their appeals for donations anonymously online.
Anybody can ask for donations anonymously online, but are they likely to get any. Here's a test: click here and donate to this anonymous blogger!

See? It didn't work. I knew it wouldn't.
The study noted that internet chat rooms have replaced meetings in mosques, community centres and cafes, making recruitment more difficult to detect and disrupt.
Right. Terrorist recruiting on the internet is difficult to detect. That must be why we know so much about it.
The internet has served as a vehicle for spreading the radical message of a clash of civilizations that pits a monolithic West struggling against Islam since the time of the Crusades, the report says. This theme particularly resonates with disaffected Muslim youths.
That's not even funny. The internet knows nothing about a clash of civilizations. The president knows, though. He used to call the War For Iraqi Oil a "crusade". So let's knock off all this "clash of civilizations" nonsense.

In fact it's impossible to have a "clash of civilizations" against Muslims anyway because everybody knows they're not civilized -- they're savages!
"The 'killer application' of the internet is not so much its use as a broadcast tool, but its function as a communications channel that links people in cyberspace, who then meet and can take action in the physical world," the report says.
The term "killer app" is used here with apparently unintentional irony. But I think we should disallow whatever there is about this that's dangerous. Right away, too. Before it can be used to promote political dissent.
The report lists examples of internet-driven radicalisation.
... or something!
For example, Hassan Abujihaad, an American-born Muslim formerly known as Paul R. Hall, was arrested in March and charged with disclosing secret information about the location of Navy vessels to terrorist groups. Prosecutors said he had been in contact with extremists online and had ordered videos promoting violent jihad.
... which he had delivered to him while he was aboard a Navy ship. What's wrong with this picture?
The train bombings in Madrid of March 2004 were committed by terrorists from North Africa who were not directly linked to al-Qaida but shared its ideology. The internet played a role in promoting extremist ideology within the group, according to the report.
But since the terrorists who committed the train bombings in Madrid appear to have been connected with the policia, they probably didn't need the internet at all.
The report says the internet has speeded the radicalisation of young people, citing the disrupted plot in summer 2006 to bomb airliners bound for the United States.
Come on! That was a very dangerous plot! Why is everybody laughing?
They went "from what would appear to be ordinary lives in a matter of some weeks and months, not years, to a position where they were allegedly prepared to commit suicide and murder thousands of people," London's Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair said.
"Allegedly" is right! But wouldn't matter to me if they all converted from choir boys to militant jihadis in a matter of seconds. Whatever they allegedly did is good enough for me. I'm just glad they can't take toothpaste on an airplane anymore.
The report also found that the anonymity of the web can lead to people expressing more violence than they actually feel, with repetition and enthusiasm steadily increasing. There is also a primary focus on youth.

"Web sites are often flashy and colourful, apparently designed to appeal to a computer savvy, media-saturated, video game-addicted generation," the report said.
I certainly hope we paid a lot of money for this report, because its conclusions are so unorthodox and stunning. Web sites are designed to appeal to computer-savvy young people? Who'd a thunk it? Quick, call Ripley's Believe It Or Not!
One site featured a game called "Quest for Bush" in which the player fights Americans and proceeds to different levels like "Jihad Growing Up" and "Americans Hell." Other sites include rap and hip-hop music.
Well in that case we should ban all rap and hip-hop music immediately. And anything that sounds like it. And anything that looks like it. Just ban anything radical extremists like to listen to. Why not? If it makes us safer, it's worth it. And even if it doesn't make us safer, it's still worth it.
The report notes a number of strategies have been launched in various countries, including websites for moderate Muslims and orders issued by Muslim leaders denouncing violence.

It concludes that a stronger counterstrategy is needed, possibly including the use of graphic visuals such as footage of dead children and images of other innocent victims of terrorism. "Distasteful as this may be to invoke, the power of visuals is profound," the report states.
Exactly right. That's why we can't see the dead bodies of our soldiers coming home from Iraq. And that is also why we can't see the dead bodies that our soldiers create in Iraq.

That's another good thing, in my opinion. Otherwise we might start to hate our "leaders" as much as the rest of the world does.