Cyber Citizen-Warriors

By Matthew Harwood

Via The Washington Times:

Ordinary Americans are tracking down U.S. Web sites used by al Qaeda and jihadi sympathizers and then using the Internet to persuade the service providers to snuff out the sites.

"I do this because it has to be done," says one blogger who calls himself a "counter-cyberjihadist" for his campaigns to post on the Web the Internet service providers (ISPs) that host the pro-jihad sites.

A perfect storm of complaints forced several ISPs to shut down Web sites just days before al Qaeda released a tape of Osama bin Laden in August, says Aaron Weisburd, director of the Society for Internet Research and host of the Web site He released a list of 19 pro-jihad Web sites, some of which were shut down in August.

Most of the pressure is applied to pro-jihadi bloggers that post propaganda and recruiting messages and broadcast videos of jihadist attacks.

There is one caveat for these cyber citizen-warriors though, only the lowest rung of Web sites should be targeted says Weisburd, or vital evidence or intelligence critical to the fight against jihadism could be lost.  Moreover, too many cyber attacks on these Web sites could breed resilience.

"Shutting down Web sites is a tactic, and done wisely in support of a particular objective, it can be a good thing," Mr. Weisburd said. "Done blindly as an end in itself it only serves to breed a resistant pest, much like the overapplication of insecticide will do."

One blogger singled out for his efforts is "Rusty Shackleford" of My Pet Jawa. You can find his Web site here.


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