February 15, 2007
Daniel Joseph Maldonado: How the Internet Created a Terrorist
How does Daniel Joseph Maldonado, a mild-mannered married Boston native, become transformed into Daniel Al-Jughaifi, a zealous supporter of sharia law, and then into Abu Mohammed, an armed jihadi fighting in Somalia alongside al Qaeda operatives? The internet, that's how.
Aaron at Internet Hagannah traces Maldonado's exodus:
Attitudes like Daniel's don't develop in a vacuum. They develop and are nurtured in community with other Muslims, and that community is found online. Islamist forums function like little terrorist factories. Muslims enter at one end, and terrorists and their plots issue forth from the other end. No matter how good we are at monitoring these online communities, the fact is that relying on such monitoring to prevent terrorist attacks is like trying to catch a bullet in mid-flight. Just ask the man who was murdered in Kismaayo. Better to go for the weapon, before the trigger is pulled. The forums are the weapon, and this is why people like Sasjamal [who ran the Islamic forum that Daniel was a moderator at] are culpable for the damage that results from their efforts to create and maintain these forums.Indeed. You can't kill all the terrorists, but it's not nearly as difficult to take out the main jihadi forums as the talking heads suggest.
How we proceed from here is open to debate. There is more than one way to deal with online communities of Islamic extremists. But there is no doubt that watching them is not enough.