They use the Internet to:
- Wage psychological warfare by spreading disinformation, delivering threats to instill fear and helplessness, and disseminating horrific images. For example, the grisly murder of Daniel Pearl was videotaped by his captors and posted on several terrorist Web sites.
- Create publicity and spread propaganda.
- Gather intelligence. Details about potential targets– such as transportation facilities, nuclear power plants, public buildings, ports, and airports — and even counterterrorism measures are available online. For example, the DHS maintains a password-protected online site called Tripwire, which provides information on how to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
- Fundraise. Many Islamic charitable organizations allow users to make a zakat contribution online. Some terrorist organizations use front companies and charitable organizations under their control to receive such donations.
- Recruit and mobilize supporters through chat rooms, cyber cafés, and bulletin boards.
- Communicate and coordinate with operatives and supporters. Two terrorist cells in Florida and Canada, which were recently disrupted, passed messages via the Internet.
- Share information, such as how to manufacture and use weapons, including bomb-making techniques.
- Plan attacks. To preserve their anonymity, the 9/11 attackers used the public Internet services and sent messages via free Web-based e-mail accounts.
.gov & .mil aren’t the only Blue Force in this battle space.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) publicizes extremist messages on the Internet, including terrorist Web sites, discussion forums, and blogs. After MEMRI published a comprehensive survey of Islamist Web sites in 2004, many them were closed down by their hosting ISPs.
Even the digitally challenged can help take down jihadi web sites. There are things YOU could be doing, if you wanted to.