What’s It All About
Limiting the ability of terrorists to use the Internet as an operational platform is one of the most significant challenges that lawmakers and national security experts face. The problem could not be more central to winning the war on terrorism.
One of the great ironies of the Internet era is that the very characteristics of the Internet that appeal to government, industry, and private users are some of the same dynamics that make it an ideal operational tool for global terrorist movements. Despite an ever-growing number of Islamic extremist Web sites used to incite or plan violent attacks, the efforts of the United States and other governments around the world have been ineffective at disrupting terrorist-affiliated sites and preventing cyber jihadists’ from spewing their propaganda to the world.
Many violent extremist Web sites have become one–stop terrorist recruitment, training, and planning centers. As traditional means of travel and communication have become increasingly difficult for terrorists, terrorist-related Internet sites have become the de facto way for them to accomplish their mission objectives. Operating with unprecedented openness, jihadist Web masters are capitalizing on our deep respect for freedom of speech to the point that it is costing the lives of our soldiers and increasingly diminishing our way of life.
These jihadist Web sites are operational tools of terrorists and thus they deserve to be treated like the weapons of terrorism they are. Just as screaming “fire” in a movie theater legally exceeds tolerable limits on freedom of speech, so should these Web sites be addressed through legal means. They should justifiably draw a response from law enforcement. Inciting violence against innocent people should likewise be intolerable to peaceful societies. Yet, governments seem powerless to stop them – lost in a fog of how to legally and ethically respond.
We can wait no longer. It is our duty to respond to these threats in a way which protects life, liberty, and justice for all people. Enough is enough.