Cyber warfare US Department of Homeland Security 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
The majority of online terrorist activity is now taking place on social media, a
new study has found.
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Prof. Gabriel Weimann, of the University of Haifa’s
Communications Department, found that 90 percent of organized terrorism on the
Internet is occurring on social media websites.
“By using these tools,
the organizations are able to be active in recruiting new friends without
geographical limitations,” Weimann said Monday.
Weimann, who has
published a book on Internet-based terrorist activities, studied public and
password-protected sites over the past decade.
Facebook, chat rooms,
YouTube, and other sites that have been key to the Internet’s evolution are also
being utilized by Islamist radicals, he found.
“The social media is
enabling the terror organizations to take initiatives by making ‘friend’
requests, uploading video clips... and they no longer have to make do with the
passive tools available on regular websites,” he said.
organizations have found a dual use for Facebook: recruitment of new members and
an intelligence gathering platform, Weimann found.
He cited reports from
Lebanon stating that Hezbollah is trawling through Facebook accounts belonging
to IDF soldiers searching for intelligence that could be used to plot
The US, Canada, and Britain have instructed members of their
armed forces to delete all personal information from Facebook accounts to
prevent al-Qaida from accessing sensitive information.
become a great place to obtain intelligence.
Many users don’t even bother
finding out who they are confirming as [a] ‘friend’ and to whom they are
providing access to a large amount of information on their personal life. The
terrorists themselves, in parallel, are able to create false profiles that
enable them to get into highly visible groups,” Weimann said.
traditional forums are still being used to obtain expertise in bomb-making and
preparations for terror attack.
“I have a kilogram of acetone.
want to know how to make an explosive with it to blow up a military jeep,” read
a message on an open forum belonging to Hamas’s military wing, the Izzadin
Kassam, Weimann’s research revealed.
The query was answered quickly with
“The most advanced of Western communication
technology is, paradoxically, what the terror organizations are now using to
fight the West,” Weimann said.