May 05, 2010

YouTube: It's Where the Jihad is At!

Over the past two years there has been a dramatic shift in online jihad support from the Islamic forums to social networking and media sites, especially Facebook and YouTube. StarCMC has a good run down of how we've been noting YouTube's growing centrality in the online jihad for several years and that others are begining to catch on; namely this report from MEMRI corroborating this.

Definitely go check out both Star and MEMRI's post.

By way of anecdote to illustrate the point that there are thousands of YouTube users supporting violent terrorism, let me direct your attention to mujahidinshallah's channel. The user name by itself should be enough to send up red flags. But let's look at his user profile:

mujahideeninshallah_user_profile_screenshot.jpg

Occupation: bomber? Hobbies: bomb making?

Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

Again, I return to the theme of treating terrorism as a criminal activity. If that is the case, then it is an encouraging sign that more and more jihadis are using YouTube. Why? Because the Google owned company helps law enforcement track down these criminals after they have committed their terroristic crimes.

Case in point.

The only problem long time readers will obviously see is that if the point is to prevent terrorism -- and not simply to track down responsible parties after they have attacked -- then the law enforcement model is woefully inadequate.

If a certain percentage of Islamist sympathizers are radicalized, in part, online, then it stands to reason that more eyeballs that are exposed to violent Islamist propaganda would eventually translate into more would-be terrorists.

And once the enemies of the United States have free reign to propagandize, recruit, and mobilize using the internet's #1 website, then the direction of the magnitude of the problem can only be headed up.

Which is why even though YouTube has been a boon in helping law enforcement agents detect, post hoc, would-be terrorists it has been a bane in that far more Muslims today can easily access violent Islamist propaganda.

And one need not call for stricter internet regulations in order to stop this growing problem. If YouTube would simply police itself and enforce its existing Terms of Service, the vast majority of these videos would be removed.

If Google's YouTube service cared half as much about terrorism as it did about pirated music and TV shows, the problem would be halved overnight.

But you know what? They don't care. And they will continue not to care as long as there is no threat of a civil lawsuit against them.

We will never fully get rid of violent Islamist propaganda on the internet. However, we should be using every means at our disposal to make such material harder to find. Doing this will whittle down the absolutely overwhelming numbers of jihad sympathizers that law enforcement should be watching, but can't; and will ensure that those who continue to disseminate and consume this material have a higher investment in and commitment to violent extremism.

Thanks to Celebrimbor and the Smackdown team for some of this info.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 02:22 PM | Comments |