How to Fight Islamic Terrorism Online

First entry in a 4 part series over at

The Long War against radical Islam is a war of ideas as much as a war of arms. Yet, for too long, the incitement and violent propaganda from Internet platforms operated by violent Islamist extremists have gone unnoticed and unanswered.

What can be done? A great deal as it turns out — from shutting down these sites to exploiting them for counterterrorism purposes.

To understand how, think of the terrorist web as two different platforms: (1) interactive forums, discussion groups, blogs and chat rooms used by jihadists to communicate and plan with each other and attract and direct new recruits; and (2) static web pages of violent propaganda. While the former can provide Western intelligence agencies with vital information about potential attacks, the latter frequently contain little if any probative value beyond their violent messaging.

The goal should be to shut down those sites that yield little in the way of actionable intelligence while infiltrating, monitoring and countering the more dynamic sites that serve as operational tools for the terrorists. An effective online strategy should serve to limit and discredit the jihadist message, deny safe haven to terrorists on the Internet, thwart their ability to obtain support from a vulnerable online population, and continue to monitor their communications on web forums.

A first step: The U.S and Canada should designate or criminalize terrorist sites as terrorist entities.

The U.S. Treasury Department has already designated Hezbollah’s al-Manar and the Iraqi-Syrian al-Zawraa television channels for their role in providing operational support in furtherance of terrorist attacks. These designations should be expanded to include websites, terrorist video production units, media companies, and website operators. Governments need to freeze their assets, and make the provision of material support to these entities and individuals a criminal offense.

The private sector must also be encouraged to monitor and self-regulate. Policymakers should encourage media entrepreneurs to follow the lead of Google, which, in 2008, after requests from Senator Joseph Lieberman and other members of Congress, removed numerous violent al-Qaeda videos from its YouTube video sharing service. In making the decision not to facilitate the transmission of terrorist media, Google made a sound business decision to avoid the real reputational risk of being identified, fairly or not, with the activities of a terrorist organization.

For those companies not willing to self-regulate, regulations should be adopted for “Terms of Service” agreements between Internet companies and their clients, focused on preventing the incitement of violence. Internet providers that repeatedly aid terrorist entities by hosting their websites should be fined to the full extent of the law.

Western counterterrorism and intelligence agencies also need centralized capabilities to monitor and respond to the terrorist web. Co-ordinated strategic information campaigns should be waged against these groups, including cataloging, tracking and continuously updating a database of terrorist websites, website operators and chat room participants.
Source: National Post
h/t:  Jawa ReportInfidels Are Cool

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