Counter-Terrorism: It's The Sermons, Stupid


namespace prefix = o /?> November 22, 2007: There are over 5,000 web sites out there that support Islamic terrorism. Many provide practical information on how to build bombs, and carry out terrorist attacks. Yet the number of terrorist attacks has not grown nearly as much as the web sites promoting terror. Outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, terror attacks have declined in the past year. In Iraq, the terrorists have been beaten, and the pattern is repeating itself in Afghanistan. That pattern, where a widespread terror campaign kills lots of civilians, and turns the population against the terrorists, is not a new one. It happened in the 1990s in Algeria and Egypt. And more recently in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

But with a billion Moslems, and many of them with access to the Internet, and that huge growth in terrorist "how to" websites, why hasn't there been an increase elsewhere? There are several reasons. First, the vast majority of Moslems have no interest in taking part in terrorist actions. Still, even that small number that do, produces some big numbers. Major European nations, like Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, all believe they each have at least a thousand hard core, pro-terror individuals who must be carefully watched in each of their countries. This vigilance results in arrests every month, of dozens of wannabe terrorists who were getting too close, for the police, to actually carrying out an attack.

Most of the terrorist web sites are actually useful for counter-terrorism organizations. They provide an easy way to monitor the pro-terrorist crowd, and the terrorists themselves. The web sites also spread lots of information that is dangerous to potential terrorists. A lot of the instructions for making explosives are flawed, and either won't work, or will cause injury to whoever is making or handling the stuff. It's amazing that those errors have not been corrected. Actually, it indicates that every few people have actually tried to build the bombs.

The web sites also play a role in discouraging pro-terrorist sentiments. That's because the discussions therein include an examination of terrorist failures. There have been far more of those than successes. This causes most of the potential terrorist recruits to drift away. Moreover, many of the regulars on those boards are all talk and no action. It appears that the most effective recruiting device is a mosque with a pro-terror cleric in charge. These fellows tend to give convincing sermons on the subject of Islamic terrorism. That's why all nations that have been effective in halting, or eliminating, Islamic terrorism, have done so by going after the radical clergy. It's the sermons, stupid.




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