2007 March 04 Sunday
Terrorists Make Internet Biggest Recruiting Tool

Click your way to Islamic Jihad.

(CBS) America's top intelligence officer overseeing Iraq and Afghanistan says terrorists have made the Internet their most important recruiting tool. Brig. Gen. John Custer tells Scott Pelley that terrorist groups like al Qaeda are influencing Islamic youth to join their cause through Web sites devoted to jihad, or religious war.

Pelley's report will be broadcast this Sunday, March 4, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"I see 16-, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield. We capture them, we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan," says Custer. "Without a doubt, the Internet is the single-most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth," he tells Pelley.

As I like to say: the streets find their own uses for technology. The motivations for creating technologies are very often very different than the uses that technologies get put to. The more advanced technologies become the easier they become to use by everyone - including Muslims who believe non-Muslims should submit to Muslim rule or die.

As internet bandwidth costs have decreased so have the costs of producing and delivering streaming video jihadist propaganda.

The Internet allows terrorists to use increasingly sophisticated methods, such as music videos distributed by media organizations, to reach more potential recruits with more effective messages. "Now they are able to distribute … anything they want, anywhere they want. This is unheard of in history," says Ulph. "We're witnessing this ideological war on our own desktops."

This has implications for Western countries with Muslim minority populations. The more educated Muslims are more likely to become jihadists and the left-liberal assumption that more education makes people more tolerant is false. Well, technology increasingly allows Muslims living in Western societies to carve out their own media channels and communications channels so that they exist in parallel societies even while being physically close to majority non-Muslim populations. The internet enables these parallel societies because it supports huge numbers of channels of video, audio, and text content as well as online forms, chat, and other means of communication.

Al Qaeda are rebuilding their organization in the tribal lands of Pakistan.

Al Qaeda would still like to inflict mass casualties upon the US, and it continues to seek weapons of mass destruction, Admiral McConnell said.

In addition, it is "forging stronger operational connections that radiate outward" from Pakistan to affiliated groups in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, according to US intelligence.

Still, Al Qaeda remains a loose network of like-minded individuals, instead of a tightly controlled terrorist hierarchy. Three-quarters of Al Qaeda's pre-9/11 leaders were killed or captured, according to US estimates. Aside from Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, many of its leaders are relative rookies.

Nor has Al Qaeda's new Pakistani infrastructure replaced the multiple camps it operated in Afghanistan, capable of training thousands of recruits at once. "The numbers are not the same, but there are volunteers who are attempting to reestablish [training grounds]," McConnell said.

Al Qaeda's ability to communicate will grow as Pakistan's internet infrastructure improves. The internet helps jihadists worldwide. One of the best ways we can respond to this is by making separate societies sit on opposite sides of well-controlled borders. Multiculturalism within a single society is a recipe for Balkanization and Lebanonization within the borders of a single nation. The best policy for dealing with Muslims is Separationism where we keep them out of our societies and minimize our involvement and dependence on them and theirs.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 March 04 03:59 PM  Terrorists Activities

birch barlow said at March 4, 2007 4:38 PM:

"As I like to say: the streets find their own uses for technology. The motivations for creating technologies are very often very different than the uses that technologies get put to."

Definately agree here. There should definately be an effort made to keep high tech from the dim-witted, mentally ill, and especially the angry, authoritarian, and agressive. It disgusts me, for example, that mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance technologies (orginially developed to test chemical reaction products for experimental, research, and industrial uses) are now used by ignorant, moralistic, schizophrenic, dishonest politicians to abuse the public. For example, some states legislatures are considering laws that would make it per se illegal to drive with *any* substance in one's blood (same as driving over .08% BAC), including over-the-counter and prescription substances, regardless of any evidence of actual impairment. Fortunately, heavily voting and deep-pocketed seniors, for all their sins, will probably stop this from happening (as soon as some wealthy, politically active 65 year-old gets pulled over and thrown in jail simply for having Vicodin and Robitussin metabolites in his body from his arthritis and chronic cough, heads would probably roll politically).

Jerry Martinson said at March 4, 2007 5:31 PM:

If the internet is really becoming fertile ground for al Qaeda recruitment, then it is a mixed bag for the US but I think it is net-positive. On one hand it becomes easier for them to recruit larger numbers of potential terrorists on our own soil. On the other hand, this is the ultimate form of trackable bait. There are a number of techniques that can be employed to either bait or monitor early recruitment activity that can form a short list of those who need to be investigated. Nearly anytime you use a computer all sorts of information that you may not be aware of get's spilled all over the place. This is something where the data mining techniques developed in the past decade truly excel; I think they put large-resource organizations at a huge advantage in this area. Once trust has been established between networks of terrorists, it is very difficult to penetrate. But in the time before, it is very easy to get a rootkit or something similar on one of the machines and do a man-in-the-middle attack to get every thing that they think is secure.

Randall Parker said at March 4, 2007 5:37 PM:

birch barlow,

Aside: Note that if you ever use one of the popular drug names in a comment post my blogging software will likely hold the comment for preview since 99.9% of the attempts to write a comment using those words are done by spammers.

Wolf-Dog said at March 4, 2007 6:39 PM:

The Muslim population of the US is close to 1 %, the situation is different in Europe: within 20 years, the European population will be 25-30 % Muslim. Instead of segregation, it looks like there will be a major war inside Europe, possibly far more violent than WW II.

Mensarefugee said at March 5, 2007 3:57 AM:

Canada's Muslim population stands at roughly 2%. And its growing fast.

Once they are citizens, there is no turning back except massive upheaval and revolution. And I figure the % will be 10-15% (including differential fertility) before anything is done.

I dont particularly care much for On-the-street level Western Culture, especially as it stands now, but muslims seem to be worse. We all remember the report that 12% of muslims supported overthrowing the Canadian Govt and bombing parliment...

Mensarefugee said at March 5, 2007 3:59 AM:

And damn the white reaction, stifled in P.C

The other fast growing group in Canada is the Chinese. Do you think they will put up with what is tantamount to criminals or fanatics once their numbers increase?

Tom said at March 5, 2007 5:47 AM:

For a quick look at how the Han Chinese treat muslims, check out Xinjiang (that place gets the Tibet treatment, but it is pretty hushed-up). The Chnese have no problems shooting, jailing, torturing and beating on muslims (not that I mind). The Chinese play hardball, for sure. Maybe when they take over Canada, muslims will be a non-issue. It seems that that only way to keep muslims in line is with violence. The sooner we come to terms with that, the easier it will be.

Purenoiz said at March 5, 2007 7:32 AM:

wolf dog
It's hard to imagine a more violent war than WWII. I stayed a month in kreuzberg, formerly a section of east Berlin. It is home to the a huge Turkish population(thanks to WWI).It was insane there during the world cup when Turkey went as far as they did, eventually finishing third. AAmazing how people can live in an area for decades and still have loyalty to a country almost completely foreign to them.
But given the shame the Germans feel in regards to WWII it's hard to imagine a war against civilians, to combat the one Al-Qeada is waging, would be very tough to endorse. But then again this is a new era in "warfare". could get very ugly if there was a forced exodus of muslim peoples from Europe.

Do you fight fire with fire? Is anybody innocent?

Sam said at March 5, 2007 8:26 AM:

Amen, Fight Fire with Fire. Muslims see all infidels as soldiers for their faith (or lack of it if they are an atheist). We won't get the Geneva Conventions applied to us nor shown any mercy. At best if captured we get shot dead on the spot, at worst we get our heads sawed off and it is placed on the internet after some torture. We have to take the fight to these people in no uncertain terms. We show mercy to these people and we look weak. And speaking of the Germans, a few SS Panzer Divisions would Iraq have under control by 5pm Friday and the Iranians would be begging us to inspect their dismantled nuclear facilities. If we don't crush these people, muslim terror is never going to end, ever.

legaleagle said at March 5, 2007 9:39 AM:

It's kind of comical, with the spectacle of Ann Coulter's performance, that anyone still denies the fact that conservatives have largely turned the Republican Party into a contemporary version of the Ku Klux Klan. The party is dominated by an obsessive, paranoid ideology of race hatred, with the Klan's focus on blacks now spead out over a number of groups, including Muslims, Mexicans, feministsm liberals, homesexuals, and several others. Here's a couple of illustrative quotes, just from this thread:

"It seems that that only way to keep muslims in line is with violence. The sooner we come to terms with that, the easier it will be."

"We show mercy to these people and we look weak. And speaking of the Germans, a few SS Panzer Divisions would Iraq have under control by 5pm Friday and the Iranians would be begging us to inspect their dismantled nuclear facilities."

It's certainly good to see that Republicans have stopped hiding their explicit lave of fascism, and their admiration of tactics. This is reinforced, of course, by the attribution of a whole theory - "Seperationaism" - to describe the Republican desire to repudiate democracy, eradicate civil liberties, and enagage in mass detentions and expulsion based on religion.

Muslims don't represent a tenth of the threat to America that Republicans do.

Carl Gordon said at March 5, 2007 10:52 AM:

A certain level of anxiety is necessary for maintaining mental equilibrium when dealing with the moribund little weasel in the White House that runs his Mobius strip foreign policy, reflecting his obvious rodent-like existence, and to keep up the pace on his hamster wheel of familial guilt and self loathing. And everybody else is starting to get more rowdy and disrespectful, turning our heads occasionally to check out the big clock in the back of the room, as George and DICK are the substitute teachers from hell. And just look at what they wear! It could be a burka or a burnoose, or even a loose chartreuse caboose. But then who’s counting? Murray down in accounting is counting. He once counted on a red wagon for Xmas, but a life of unfettered sibling slashes and mis-directed parental animosity gave his toiny brain a migraine. Now all he counts on is the Beans (For all you Java programmers out there). The Beans, that is. And another Bush “speech”? A windy oratory of the most element alimentary froofra. Is it safe? Is it safe? Are we toast yet?

Yep, that’s it. We are soon (geologically, cosmologically, Estee’ Lauder speaking) to be squished lil’ pecker heads, burnt to the proverbial crisp. Or is it chips. I can never remember, is it English Chips and American crisps? Or the other way around? I have lost my bearings. I stare up at the sun and burn tiny little holes my cornea. Or is the corealis effect? Which way do the Cheneys go down the toilet, clock-wise or counter clockwise? Course we could be in Argentina where everything goes backward. After that it’s batten down the hatches and have a firm grip on the George Dickel bottle. Okay, okay, how about some genteel (not gentile, ya shmuck) sipping of martini’s with our pinkies (you call yours what you want, but mine’s Pinkie) extended.

Francis said at March 5, 2007 11:32 AM:


Why muslims are no threat at all, perish the thought! We obviously need more islamics, there simply aren't enough attempted vehicular homicides in the US at all.

Purenoiz said at March 5, 2007 1:06 PM:

Is that a call for genocide of an entire region based on the actions of some extremisits?

birch barlow said at March 5, 2007 1:42 PM:

Muslims don't represent a tenth of the threat to America that Republicans do.

Bullsh**. Democrats, Republicans, and Muslims are all dangerously fascist, moralistic, and ignorant, but Muslims take the cake (or maybe I should say, the cakes. The hatred and moralism in fundamentalist Islam is disgusting and dangerous. The U.S. should try to get as much energy independence as possible, though drilling, conservation, and research on new energy technologies. Radical Islam (which is most of Middle East Islam) is completely crazy, and the West should divorce itself from it ASAP, as well as divorcing itself (the West) from its own puritanical, authoritarian, and ignorant ideas.

clayton said at March 5, 2007 8:23 PM:

How you can tell most of the middle east isn't radical islam

Only one country so far, Afghanistan, has gone all the way nutso, thanks in part to the collapse of the soviet union, and financial and military training of the United States.

All other countries general populace have voted down fundamentalists simply because these wingnuts declare themselves to be the hand of god, and there can be no other word but theirs. And as such, would destroy democracy, since it is anti-koran. You can't debate the word of god, without being a heretic, and are then worthy of death.

So the majority of muslims haven't brought these a**holes to power, principally because they are violent thugs who have no respect for human life.

Check out


3 part bbc series. 3hours in length total.

Randall Parker said at March 5, 2007 8:52 PM:


If someone wants to view their "side" as morally superior they can certainly cherry pick opponents and then say those opponents represent all the other side. That's what you are doing. It helps you feel superior. You boost the status of you and your group. Doing so satisfies a deeply felt instinctual need. But is it honest? I do not think so.

On the right and left there are several reactions to the Muslims:

1) Force them all to become more like us. Many neocons and liberals support this view. Paleocons and some others on the Right think this a naive proposal that is incompatible with human nature, especially of the Arabs.

2) Appease the Muslims. It is all our fault. Or it is the fault of other Western factions (gotta keep our own faction blameless and boost our own status).

3) Kill them all. Yes, some believe that is necessary. As Lawrence Auster has pointed out, some neocons are desperate to force Muslims to change precisely because they believe the only other choice is that we kill all the Muslims. But that's a neocon position, not a paleocon or Burkean or other conservative position. The neocons are nuts and in spite of their use of the term "conservative" as part of their self-labelling they aren't really conservative.

4) Some think if we just adopted an isolationist position and opened our borders then all would be well between us and the Muslims. This is a more libertarian position. I think it is naive.

5) Separationism: Separate ourselves from the Muslims. Send them packing. Keep out of their affairs except where they do things to directly threaten us (e.g. those Taliban Al Qaeda training camps pre-9/11). I'm in the separationist camp.

If you think separationists are racists then you are basically taking one of the other positions above (while posing as morally superior by calling us racists). If so, which position is yours?

Randall Parker said at March 5, 2007 8:59 PM:


Few Arab countries have elections. Some of the elections are between candidates selected by the governments. Some of the elected assemblies have little power.

Algeria's last election touched off a civil war precisely because the fundamentalists won and the more educated urban upper classes did not want to be governed by fundamentalists.

The near total lack of democracy in the Middle East and its illiberal character demonstrates that democracy does not automatically lead to free rights and free press and the rest of what democracy is associated with in the West. In Russia and Venezuela democracy has produced elected dictators and a gradual clamping down on free presses. Democracy does not lead to freedom. A populace must have other attributes or democracy will produce tyranny.

Irish Savant said at March 6, 2007 12:21 PM:

I have extensive experience of just about every Arab country, and for more than 10 years. Most Arabs in fact are very nice and a country like Oman (which is admittedly an exeption) is simply a wonderful place. But i belive that these good things refelct the nature of the people themsleves, not Islam. The problems seem to come when Muslims reach a critical mass in a Western country and for those reasons I'm in the separatist camp, but in modified form. I'd keep immigration down or non-existent, but would be fully tolerant towards existing residents who respect our norms. But then, anyone who steps out of line should be just politely, yes, politely, put on a plane back to wherever they came from. This threat was a large factor in stopping the riots in France a couple of years ago.

Anon said at March 6, 2007 11:25 PM:

It seems to me that the status of muslims in the US is very different than it is in Europe and there has been a failure to effectively naturalize in Europe creating a enduring and growing underclass that is almost like a cancer in their society. But I don't see this happening in the US with muslims at all, even in areas with lots of muslims. I'm not sure that there is an inherent problem with muslim immigration from the middle-east. The term "muslim immigrant" is too broad of a brush stroke to reveal what is happening. While a lot here talk of getting "critical mass" in a country where they just don't naturalize, maybe there's another factor at work here:

I wonder if this is mostly a matter of idle hands being the devil's playground. I get the impression that in Europe and in the Middle East there's chronic underemployment of educated people in general. And the economic nature of muslim immigration in Europe is more like the hispanic immigration in the US where there is a lot of low-wage, low-status jobs. However in the US, many muslims come here and work as yuppies and in high-status professions such as doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors, merchants, and managers. There's just too much work to do in America for them to get so damn worked up over the intractable disputes over the middle east. Muslims in the US are personally respected by their non-muslim peers in America as a result of their high-status professions. This probably blooms over into a general feeling of well-being among most muslims in the US despite what the US is doing abroad and very real threat to them from the domestic hyper-reaction of 9/11. The funny thing to me is that I bet most muslims in Europe and the middle-east think that muslims in the US are treated like sh*t by Americans because of what they see on TV and what they infer from America's middle-eastern policies when in reality American muslims as individuals are probably a lot more respected than they are. In Europe, I get the sense that muslims stew in a constant indignation since even if educated they identify with part of an ethnic underclass that is resented and feared by mainstream Europe. The mix of this sense of constant indignation, outrage over Zionism, and other clashes with western policies causes them to find a uniting ethnic pride in the extremist interpretations of their religion. Ultimately this cultivates terrorist ideology among the idle hands, particularly among the more capable of them since they must feel that they should do something important with their lives.

The unfortunate thing is that it is going to be very difficult for INS to distinguish between the one-in-a-million terrorist imports from the middle-east and Europe and legitimate and eager talent seeking the outstanding professional opportunities that the US has.

crush41 said at March 15, 2007 5:44 PM:

The more educated Muslims are more likely to become jihadists and the left-liberal assumption that more education makes people more tolerant is false.

Indeed. Fortune's Cait Murphy marshalls a good deal of evidence refuting the conventional leftist explanations.

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