‘On the screen of the radar for news but without the knowledge of the big media.
This is the online fight for power of Islamic militants’. This is the beginning
of the declaration made by Gerald, author of the Internet Anthropologist blog,
in which he encourages his readers to fight online terrorism using a toolbar available
from his website, explicitly created to spread information.
Gerald claims to be a former private detective with a degree in Internet Anthropology.
‘I created the toolbar for myself, but then I decided to make it public’, Gerald
Internet Anthropologist says Islamic radical power is growing on the Internet
through the insidious indoctrination of a whole generation of Muslims, whom are
shown an aggressive and militant outlook of Islam.
They are deceived by a debasement of their religion – it is said in this blog
– and by a misleading representation of the mujahideen: all this is a false Islamic
ideology still largely supported. ‘We propose a counter-ideology, to fight in
the new battle field: the Internet’, explains Internet Anthropologist. ‘Using
the Qur’an we oppose Al-Qaeda’s lies and we provide people with the right methods
to discover them with the toolbar’.
Gerald’s aim is to teach web users to discover and recognise misleading information
on the websites which support terrorism. Internet Anthropologist explains to people
how terrorists can have access to detailed maps through the Internet and how they
create worldwide financing networks. Also, through a regular publication (even
weekly) of training manuals diffused in clandestine chat rooms they can hire more
and more supporters.
In Gerald’s opinion, terrorism organizations have changed from being based on
a pyramid structure to thousands of cells which keep in touch through the Internet.
Nowadays everyone can have access to the ‘Mujahadeen Poisons Handbook’, a 23-page
manual which purports to explain how to manufacture handmade potions. Another
manual, called ‘The Jihad Encyclopedia’, thousands of pages long, teaches how
to create terrorist cells in order to organise attacks. Internet Anthropologist
argues that often those groups plan their attacks through chat rooms and e-mail
cryptography or steganography. Now it is even possible to graduate online in jihad
at the ‘al-Qaeda University of Jihad Studies’.
Professor Gabriel Weiman, department of Communications at Israel’s University
of Haifa, estimated that radical websites praising for terrorism and political
violence have increased from a few (ten years ago) to 4,700 (today). Scott Atran,
a research director in anthropology at National Centre for Scientific Research
in Paris, interviewed many jihadists and discovered they spread around the world
a false view of Islam, which has nearly nothing to do with the real Islamist tradition.
Atran was so surprised to discover that the militants define the jihadist martyrdom
as the only true value in their lives, using the very same words in the outskirts
of Paris or in the Indonesian jungle.
Atran and Internet Anthropologist believe that forums and chat rooms should be
used instead to spread the traditional Islamic values against those of martyrdom.
To stop jihadists teaching them the traditional Islamic values may be a long process.
However, at Internet Anthropologist they say that talking to people in forums
may slow down or stop their radicalisation. ‘A false statement posted in a forum
months ago’, says Gerald to PeaceReporter, ‘may appear as correct if no one replies
with the truth. I do not fear terrorists but their fabrications’. Internet Anthropologist
ask its readers to fight in this ‘war on terror’ using the toolbar. Those who
decide to join must register in the Yahoo! Group explicitly created for the purpose
and then he or she will be able to answer terrorists and to be up-to-date on the
The toolbar comes with the Arabic keyboard, 1,000 URLs of terrorist websites,
Al-Qaeda manual, steganography and cryptography tools, dictionaries in 7 different
languages, a list of the main forums used by the terrorists, investigative tools
(for example http://www.trackingthethreat.com/
), access to private networks (Vpn) and proxy tester, access to governmental
sources, Cia and Nasa phone numbers, radiation and blast calculations. You just
have to try.