November 19, 2018

Social media has been hijacked by ISIS – Silicon Valley must end terrorists’ online campaigns or governments will

It looks like that ISIS’ shrinking Caliphate may actually end in Iraq and Syria in the not too distant future. Tragically, that welcomed development however soon it occurs, won’t end the all-too-real threat of escalating terrorist attacks. New evidence indicates that the Manchester Concert homicide bomber met with ISIS operatives in Libya another failed state that could be the next terrorism central.

 So why not a coalition of the willing to drain that swamp and be done with it. Without question, as Israel has proven killing large number of terrorists can make a big difference. And the elimination of thousands of well-trained and battle-hardened terrorists- be they ISIS, al Qaeda, al Shabab, etc; remains a key factor in turning the tide in the war against terrorism. Denying the terrorist groups of  territory they control will rob the evil doers of the R&D centers and the cash to upgrade and expand their lethal crusades to bring down the world order.

But to be clear, ISIS, al Qaeda, and al Shabab terrorism will not end in a hail bullets.That’s because there is another battlefield in the global war that the terrorists are winning hands down:  The Internet. With only a few bumps in the road, terrorists, their global support networks, their sophisticated media, propaganda, and recruitment campaigns have taken full advantage of civilization’s most powerful marketing tools to create and control an romanticized Islamist narrative that has gained them a virtual but all-too-real army of supporters on every continent.

Each year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes its Digital Terrorism and Hate Report  detailing the online terrorism tutorials, the tweets celebrating every “martyr” of every outrage, the glossy online magazines urging on the faithful to mow down, stab, shoot and blow up the infidels, crusaders(Christians) and sons of apes and pigs(Jews). We exposed the pressure cooker bomb recipe three months before it was used against innocents at The Boston Marathon. Over the last two years we warned social media companies that terrorists networks were embracing encryption, a tactic that has enabled suspects to go dark before they launched attacks. Some of the companies have refused to change their rules of usage and even refused to cooperate with authorities after atrocities were committed.

Our Digital Terrorism and Hate Report Card shows mixed grades in their commitment to degrade online capabilities of extremists. In the meantime, online recruitment for terrorist cells and lone wolves continued unabated. And sometimes, as in Stockholm, the perpetrators themselves  boast of their killings on social media.

After the House of Commons, Manchester and London Bridge atrocities, in the United Kingdom, beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May has thrown down the gauntlet. On the eve of this week’s national elections, she is vowing to regulate online activity.

Internet companies and purveyors of encryption apps have only themselves to blame, as some firms refused to cooperate with authorities even after hundreds of innocent victims were murdered in the US, UK, and France.

As body counts continue to mount, counter arguments against government intervention ring more hollow. There is no freedom of speech or right to privacy for anyone launching, aiding, or abetting mass murder and mayhem. Will such measures push the extremists to the dark side of the Internet? Perhaps. And while that wholesale move may make it a bit more challenging for intelligence and police agencies to follow ISIS and its ilk, it would rob the terrorists of their most effective marketing platforms.  We must put an end to the terrorists’ unchallenged sophisticated social media campaigns that continue to gain tens of thousands of young adherents in the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and the US.  

To coopt similar action to 10 Downing Street by Capitol Hill, Social Media giants led by Facebook/Instagram, Google/YouTube, and Twitter, along with messaging Apps Telegram, WhatsApp, and Surespot, must immediately commit to unleash their unparalleled “big brother” and hi-tech prowess to degrade and eliminate the food chain of terrorism and hate from their midst.

If Silicon Valley fails to take effective action, terrorist onslaughts will continue and expand. And the era of the unfettered online golden goose could come to a screeching halt amidst Congressional hearings, legislation, and regulation.

Theresa May is right. Enough is enough!