Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Importance of Terrorist Whack-a-mole

BUT FOR EVERY WEBSITE THAT GETS TAKEN DOWN...
...thousands more arise to replace it."

Wrong.

For every website that gets taken down, the same site rises back up again at a new location, or under a new name, in a process that can take 4 to 14 days. That is the typical scenario. Sometimes sites cease operation altogether due to factors ranging from simple weariness on the part of the webmaster to the webmaster being captured or killed. In any event, to say that jihadist websites are proliferating on the web and that nothing can be done about it is not only grossly defeatist it's also just plain wrong.

There may be thousands of websites out there that scream 'Allahu Akbar!', but there are only a relative handful of sites that are of any significance either in terms of the users or the content, and there are not all that many people involved in keeping the significant sites online or producing the gory content for which these sites have become known.

So if the sites are not proliferating, why then are they able to survive at all?

Because we, the greater we, the global community of people who all at least claim to be trying to combat Islamist terrorism, allow those sites and the people who run them to survive. On the one hand there is no consensus as to which sites should be taken down vs. which one's should be allowed to continue to operate for intelligence purposes. On the other hand, tracking down and taking out the people who run the sites is not a trivial matter. It can certainly be done, but there is a justifiable interest in prioritizing what the Israelis call 'the ticking bombs'.

The problem is that day by day, as we allow these sites to continue to operate, the jihadis get stronger because the websites of the global jihad are their way of reproducing themselves and their ideology.

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