Government and community leaders aren't doing enough to counter multimedia-savvy terrorists from using flashy websites, provocative video games, hip-hop music and gruesome images of bloodied Muslim children to recruit young people online, according to a new report that says the Internet may be extremists' most powerful frontier.The war on pornography isn't about protecting children, and this war on terrorists isn't about protecting you. What it is about is very hard to say, but let me take a stab at it: quieting dissent? Power and control? Shutting down the internet? Or, perhaps it's just another dubious excuse to build an enormous, expensive infrastructure to examine every hard drive in the world. Who knew bullshit could be stretched this thin?
"There's only one side on the battlefield, and it isn't us," says Frank Cilluffo, director of George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute, who will testify Thursday on the Internet-Facilitated Radicalization report in the Senate. "We've created this global village — the Internet — without a police department."
"The Internet is a weapon in the hands of our extremist enemies," says Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which investigates ways to combat radicalization at prisons, universities and on the Internet.
Among Web-based tactics terrorists use, according to the report:
• Hacking into legitimate websites and posting training manuals deep in subdirectories where no one is likely to notice them.
• Developing video games that spread "a simple but seemingly compelling message: Islam is under attack and young Muslims have a personal duty to fight."
• Using hip-hop and rap musicians "whose catchy, melodic messages contain calls to violence."
The content is typically developed abroad, but it is being placed on U.S. servers and is targeting domestic audiences, Cilluffo says.
The report doesn't advocate stripping people of their rights to communicate ideas on the Internet. Instead, it says national leaders need to develop a compelling "counter-narrative" that the "West is not engaged in a battle against Islam," hire more intelligence officers to infiltrate chat rooms and foster better relations with Muslims.
Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke says officials are working with intelligence officers, Muslim leaders and police to address the problem. But "it is something that is going to require the vigiliance of local authorities," he says. "They are going to be more likely than the federal government to detect the preliminary signs of radicalization."
(Hat tip to Janet)