a poison tree, but…
I caught a CNN piece this week about terrorist web sites. Citing research by Dartmouth College, the AP and Gabriel Weimann of the U.S. Institute of Peace in DC, the piece presents an instructive list of the key uses to which terror groups are putting the Web.
What struck me was that it was a more streamlined, lucid presentation of the elements of Internet advocacy than you’d ever get in big media coverage of domestic, issue-driven web-work, perhaps even of politics. I suppose fear clarifies one’s thinking and accelerates one’s learning curve.
Check this out:
How terrorists use Internet
Separate research conducted by Weimann, Dartmouth College and The Associated Press found terrorists to be using the Internet in several ways:
* Propaganda. Terrorists make demands, try to elicit sympathy, attempt to instill fear and chaos and to explain themselves. The Web lets them offer up gruesome video images that broadcasters would reject.
* Recruitment. Chat rooms are monitored and questionnaires sent to prospects, though recruits must often pass many tests online and offline before they are accepted.
* Fund-raising. Sites solicit donations to charities that may serve as fronts for terror groups, in many cases by providing mailing addresses and wire-transfer accounts.
* Planning. Free e-mail accounts connect members around the world. Messages are often encrypted, and Dartmouth researchers say online manuals even discuss ways to avoid detection. Following a security crackdown in Saudi Arabia, one poster warned “fighters” to avoid a certain geographical location.
“Politicians and, of course, commercial interests effectively use the Internet to convey their message, appeal for support and attract … financial contributions,” said Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp. “These (terror) groups behave in the same way.”
Speaking of the Rand Corporation, they published a report on the net-centric nature of terrorism in 2001, Networks and Netwars, which Marty has used to great effect to evangelize the power of networks in advocacy and other kinds of organizing.
I think there may also be a mild technophobia to the story, but I’m not as much on the “Eek, technophobia!” jag as I used to be.