It’s also an indication of how a more interactive, empowered online community, particularly in the Arab-Islamic world, may prove to be Al Qaeda’s Achilles’ heel. Anonymity and accessibility, the hallmarks of Web 1.0, provided an ideal platform for Al Qaeda’s radical demagoguery. Social networking, the emerging hallmark of Web 2.0, can unite a fragmented silent majority and help it to find its voice in the face of thuggish opponents, whether they are repressive rulers or extremist Islamic movements.
Unfortunately, the authoritarian governments of the Middle East are doing their best to hobble Web 2.0. By blocking the Internet, they are leaving the field open to Al Qaeda and its recruiters. The American military’s statistics and jihadists’ own online postings show that among the most common countries of origin for foreign fighters in Iraq are Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen. It’s no coincidence that Reporters Without Borders lists Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria as “Internet enemies,” and Libya and Yemen as countries where the Web is “under surveillance.” There is a simple lesson here: unfettered access to a free Internet is not merely a goal to which we should aspire on principle, but also a very practical means of countering Al Qaeda. As users increasingly make themselves heard, the ensuing chaos will not be to everyone’s liking, but it may shake the online edifice of Al Qaeda’s totalitarian ideology.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Fight Terror With YouTube
I read an interesting op-ed piece in the NY Times today about how web 2.0 has the potential to disrupt Al Qaeda’s use of media to propagate their message and recruit new members. In essence, web 2.0 is all about freedom, access to ideas, and discussion. When an organization, such as Al Qaeda, depends on their ability to suppress freedom and control ideas to succeed, it becomes obvious how the open nature of web 2.0 communities can directly affect those organizations. Imagine the kind of comments people would leave on a video message posted by Osama Bin Laden on YouTube. The group think mentality that dominates terrorism will be infiltrated with other ideas that challenge, (sometimes with 4 letter words), the messages that are being posted. It is no surprise that many of the leading terrorists come from countries where governments try to control or suppress the use of the internet. Here is an excerpt from the article.