Germans Find AQ Treasure-Trove Encrypted in Porno Videos

by Steven R. Corman CNN is re-reporting a story from Die Zeit about a treasure-trove of al-Qaeda documents and manuals found encrypted in pornographic videos.  The encryption was done using a technique call steganography. The videos were found in the possession of Maqsood Lodin, a 22 year old Austrian and suspected al-Qaeda member.  He was detained by authorities in Berlin as be returned from a trip to Pakistan.  The documents discussed plans to attack cruise […] Read more »

Indonesian Extremists Approve of Anonymous Crusade

by Chris Lundry Indonesian Islamist extremist supporters ar Rahmah posted a story today (2-13) on their website and Facebook page about the hacker group Anonymous’ plans for a cyber-attack on Israel. The story (here) links to the Anonymous YouTube video announcing their plans. While ar Rahmah undoubtedly supports the effort, the article quotes the video as a declaration of a “Crusade” (perang salib) against Israel. The Crusade narrative is the second most frequently invoked among […] Read more »

State’s Digital Outreach Team May Do More Harm Than Good

by Cameron Bean Since November of 2006, the State Department has taken its public diplomacy efforts into the online arena of Arabic, Urdu, and Persian discussion boards. Heading this effort is the Digital Outreach Team (DOT). According to DOT member Muath Alsufy, the initiative began after the realization that “there was a lot of misinformation about the US, mainly foreign policies, and there was a void… no source on these forums and blogs that would […] Read more »

Online Mobilization by Radical Groups

by Steven R. Corman I ran across an interesting research article in the most recent issue of the Journal of Communication entitled “‘Carrying online participation offline’–Mobilization by radical online groups and politically dissimilar offline ties.”* The study looks at neo-Nazis and radical environmentalists (NN/RE) in the West, but because it potentially sheds some light on similar practices by online Muslim extremists, some of the findings deserve comment here. One notable thing about the study is […] Read more »

NATO Conference on Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman Hi there.  Long time, no blog.  That’s in part because I was attending a conference entitled Strategic Communication for Combating Terrorism sponsored by the NATO Center of Excellence for Defense Against Terrorism in Ankara, Turkey.  The workshop featured 15 experts on strategic communication, including fellow blogger Matt Armstrong of MountainRunner. Considering that we did not coordinate our subject matter in advance, there was a remarkable amount of  convergence among the presentations.  […] Read more »

A Broader View of Internet Radicalization

By Pauline Hope Cheong Two related white papers have generated fresh buzz about Internet radicalization in recent weeks.  These papers are in substantial disagreement about the basic issue of how much of a force the Internet is in causing radicalization.  This is a sign that the process is not yet well-enough understood, and that we need a broader view of the effects of new media on radicalization. One report, Countering Internet Radicalization in Southeast Asia, […] Read more »

Did the Bad Guys Scuttle Their Own Forums?

by Steven R. Corman Today the Washington Post reports that AQ Web Forums were “abruptly” taken down.  Abruptly?  Well not if abruptly means suddenly, as in it just happened.  This story has been circulating in the blogs for months, and it’s more like there have been a few waves of take-downs.  It even blipped-up elsewhere in the MSM one month ago. Will at Jihadica reported on a wave of take downs on June 10th, then […] Read more »

State Department Digital Debaters = Trolls?

by Steven R. Corman Writing today in Danger Room, David Axe called members of the State Department’s Digital Outreach Team (DOT) “trolls.”  Axe was responding to some statements by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Jim Glassman’s in a bloggers’ roundtable earlier this week.  Glassman discussed a recent and unusual engagement with an Iranian official by the DOT, which Matt has already written about. I was more than a little surprised to see this […] Read more »

Al-Qaeda’s talking, but are Americans listening?

by Monika Maslikowski Online PSYOP campaigns are a cheap and easy way for extremists to infiltrate U.S. public discourse about the fight against terrorism. The campaigns attempt to break the political will of U.S. policymakers and persuade the public to doubt the purpose and effectiveness of their government’s policies. Does extremist propaganda have enough breadth and resonance with Western audiences to make them re-think their government’s actions? The extremists must think so, because these efforts […] Read more »

ESISC Worries About Ramadan Attacks in West

by Steven R. Corman In the past couple of days I have received email alerts from ESISC, an independent European group based in Brussels that describes itself as doing observation and analysis of international terrorism and related strategic issues. The emails indicate concern that the Bad Guys are planning attacks during the upcoming Ramadan (which this year exactly occupies the month of September). The first alert from two days ago says that a forum (unnamed), […] Read more »