Thursday, May 5, 2011
How Terrorists use the Internet? Even if Osama Bin Laden did not.
It was not ironic that Osama whose death resulted in the third highest sustained twitter rates did not use the phone or the Internet; it was a crafted plan to avoid detection. Osama knew that phone calls could be traced and voice samples analyzed to locate him, and as for the Internet perhaps he suspected his browsing profile may be a giveaway. But the same is not true for the organization he created which actively uses the Internet for propaganda, organizational management, recruitment, and communication.
Propaganda dissemination is the most popular use. Terrorist have long used websites or web news to pass on statement and images of atrocities to support their cause. Mostly a diatribe against America, Israel and sometimes India, such sites are put up by passive supporters or sent directly to channels which are keen to air them.
Al Qaeda as an organization works in independent highly decentralized local cells. The Internet has been used for organizational management particularly to disseminate information to these units on how to manufacture terror. Manuals on assault techniques and bomb making are found on the net.
Recruitment through indoctrination of youth in different countries by hardcore terrorist to use as sleepers, local support, and to form small cells is done via social networking sites. Youth who become members of sites allied to the cause of these terrorists are slowly indoctrinated and converted.
Communication between terrorist using the Internet is common as they fear voice surveillance. They evolved ingenious ways to communicate such as to share a single email account post ing mails and replies in draft folders. This ensures that the email is never sent but remains on the site. They also hack open wifi sites to send terror mails via anonymous ids to scare citizens or to claim responsibility for strikes.
To my knowledge there have not been any large cyber strikes by these organizations, perhaps due to limited technological knowledge, traceability and limited impact on human life. As critical national infrastructure networks like power and water go online or if communication to airplanes or trains can be affected resulting in crashes or loss of life this may change.