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back to article Has the war on terror scored a virtual victory?

Score one for the good guys – if, that is, you believe that some websites are just so wrong that they are fair game for a takedown. Alternatively, bemoan the demise of a voice that you may not agree with, but which at least gave you the opportunity to understand better what the other side in the “war on terror” are thinking. Al- …

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Anonymous Coward

Oh come on

if they want to distribute content, they can use the same content distribution network the freetards use - torrents. In fact they probably are doing so, and word of mouth or something similar will enable folks to know that new content exists, and how to find it.

What you're seeing is what the spooks think might make for good publicity.

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Boffin

Interesting closing statement

"Meanwhile, the main result of this [...] may simply be to inure the public to the idea that "taking down" someone else’s website is clever and praiseworthy - a coup for censors everywhere, no matter what their political affiliation."

I'm not sure I agree though. Had the internet been around in the 1930s, would you feel that attacks on Nazi run websites with blogs and forums etc. promoting fascism, encouraging racially motivated attacks and generally furthering the Nazi cause over-seas, was a noble undertaking or authoritarian censorship? Actually I suppose it does limit their freedom of speech, but those individuals who do the censoring are using their right to freedom of expression, in attacking that which they disagree with and recognise as a tool of their enemy, as I'm sure the other side will do in return.

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Anonymous Coward

This is a very difficult area ...

On the one hand, wide-spread incitement to violence in an otherwise peaceful setting is intolerable, but on the other hand, organised resistance against an oppressive regime is a noble cause. One person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. When the sides are clearly "good" and "evil" and the war is in your own backyard (e.g. the Nazis in WW II) then the decision is easy. The Minute Men of the War of Independence would also come to mind ... especially if you're American, but what do the British think?

When the goals of the "war" are less clear and the enemy less easily recognisable, then what is the right decision? I favour a civilian/criminal approach - where possible, censorship (let's call it what it is) is based on specific content, not potential use of the channel. That is, only content that contravenes law is targetted, not an entire site. And those laws have mostly already been in place - the amendments needed to tackle a terrorist campaign are relatively minor since almost all activities were criminilised beforehand anyway - but international cooperation becomes more necessary.

I certainly don't support murderous propoganda spouted by Al Qaeda, but if the content isn't judged dispassionately, how can the right decision be made?

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Bronze badge
Anonymous Coward

Love the Google Ads

The diploma mills offering credentials in anti-terrorism are only OK. The weight-loss ad is better still--some algorithm has decided that those of us reading the article are overweight, unemployed, and dreaming of being SAS operatives.

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Damn i'm sick of the nazi strawman

"I'm not sure I agree though. Had the internet been around in the 1930s, would you feel that attacks on Nazi run websites with blogs and forums etc. promoting fascism, encouraging racially motivated attacks and generally furthering the Nazi cause over-seas, was a noble undertaking or authoritarian censorship?"

Every time someone has a problem with an idea they start making comparisons to the nazis/commies. Enough is enough you bloody morons. The people who slaughtered jews/gypsies/non-arians in general weren't nazis or commies, they could have cared less about their ideology and they would have done all those things regardless of the pretext employed. Stop bashing an entire ideology just because some cowards hid behind it.

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Awesome!

I wasn't aware there were groups out there that did that sort of stuff like TeAmZ USA.

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Coat

Old debate

"If somebody is incredibly stupid, should you try to shut him up?"

I'm afraid I'll go with the idea that people should always be able to say what they want. The first amendment is the only piece of American law I wholeheartedly agree with.

On the other hand, even though Voltaire said: "I disagree with you, but I'll fight to the death to defend your right to say it", I'm not sure I'll ever lift a finger to help Al-Qaeda sympathizers...

This is too complex for me. I think I'll go get myself a beer.

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Black Helicopters

I know, people will say it's a slippery slope

they also say the sky is falling and other BS. I *so* don't care if their websites get taken down. Freedom of speech does not extend to the freedom to be abhorrent. If they were publishing articles on being oppressed, that is defensible -- but cutting the heads off people in the wrong place at the wrong time is just another snuff video, and they ought to be locked up for it, not congratulated or sheltered.

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Silver badge

Indeed a bad thing

I strongly (as in, VERY strongly) disapprove of the way the USA deals with _alleged_ terr'ist (think Abu Graib, Gitmo, flying prisons, oversea secret prisons, ...). Lots of people do. Let's take down FoxNews (THEY rule the USA, after all) and various american sites as we see fit. Or not?

If taking down muslim activist websites if fair game, then gaining access to Sarah the GILF is fair game too. Hacking into insecure military networks to find info on aliens should be a good deed by this standard.

Not to mention that it's a good thing to keep your enemies where you can see them. Knock a known and visible website down, and you lose a good indicator on your enemy's views and plans.

What these brats did was ethically wrong AND tactically stupid.

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Silver badge

'Amateur spooks put willies up Al-Qaeda'

I'm pretty sure that sort of thing is what's got Al-Qaeda so upset in the first place.

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J
IT Angle

I can already see...

The emails spreading the next malware wave: "click here fur to see the 11/9 aniverzary video that authoritys donnot want you too see!"

And there is your extra IT angle in case you needed one...

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@ Alex

Ahh so Nazism / stalinist communism was all sweet luvvy duvvy fluffy bunnies then? (Marxism might have been allowed to slip past but not communism

(and for the info of a certain idiot out there, communism and marxism are 2 seperate things and no matter how long you studied history and read lenin it doesnt make you right)

Not sorry to say Nazis/Neo Nazis and communists are the same scum dwelling muppets (apart from a few minor differents in approach to certain topics such as control of businesses) both believe in indoctrination of the people, disposal of those deemed "a liability or embarrassement" and have persecuted various groups in an almost automated manner. Also they fully believe in oppression of the people to further their ends.

Al Qaeda give muslims generally a bad name and make them a target of those who have no brain and/or read the sun/dullard record/ daily heil (why they didnt slap a swastika on the front and be done with it eludes me) /maddie xpress etc

The government though should grow a pair, drop this "zero profiling" approach and admit that young muslim males are most likely to carry explosives etc on to planes so likely will be stopped and searched on a very frequent basis, whilst still being vigilant of other threats (british converts, militant lima bean munchers, femi-fruit loops, hacked off pensioners, dissident republicans (uk and irish), animal right loonies as well as friends of the earth/greenpeace/cult of chairman Al (someone who should be locked in a psych ward, sedated and reassured that the bad global warming is being dealt with and yes we are reducing the CO2 output))

Anon since I seem to have covered all bases for offending most militant fruit bats :-P

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Black Helicopters

RE: Love the Google Ads

Overweight ... check. Unemployed ... check. Dreaming of being an SAS operative ... no, not really - too much running around carrying heavy stuff (I've seen Bravo Two Zero). I'd love to have my own black helicopter, though.

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@Alex

I was worried there for a second. I thought someone had made a logical argument why my comment was rubbish. Turns out you were just saying "Oh don't pick on the Nazis, you big meanie ", which is possible the most ludicrous thing anyone can say. Nazism has racial hatred at its very core, as formed _by_ Hitler and by those who surrounded him (perhaps more so). You _cannot_ sympathise with Nazis without being a sick, twisted individual, who is not welcome in society.

Of course Islamic extremism isn't the same as Nazism, I was just using it to illustrate a point on freedom of speech. You _can_ be a Muslim without being an extremist (unlike the Nazis). Indeed, the majority of Muslims want the same as everyone else, to have a family, have a home, have a steady income and, hopefully, not to get blown up.

Also, at no point did I mention communism. I do distinguish between between communism and fascism. The former does not _have_ to lead to racial purges, but tends to as a result of the paranoid totalitarian government that seeks to run it.

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@google adds

wight loss and stuff is at least understandable but what the f is this one doing there?

"Soil Conditioner

CSG Farm soil fertiliser injection View our services online now!

www.csgwasteman.co.uk"

o hold on american load of........

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Anonymous Coward

War of Terror B*LLSHIT...

..."Terrorist" websites my arse...Don't be so gullible people.

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Meh

"You _cannot_ sympathise with Nazis without being a sick, twisted individual, who is not welcome in society."

Ofc you can. It's called freedom of political affiliation. And i don't sympathise with them, i'm just saying that raising an _idea_ to the level of pure evil is the wrong thing to do. First it's nazis, then it's people who don't like democracy, then it's people who like to have an opinion and so on and so forth until we come full circle. It's a bad frame of mind is what i'm saying. And to the reader who tried to lecture me on communism...i live in eastern europe so you're pretty much preaching to the choir on them being hateful gits.

"Of course Islamic extremism isn't the same as Nazism, I was just using it to illustrate a point on freedom of speech. You _can_ be a Muslim without being an extremist (unlike the Nazis)."

If it isn't the same then what point are you trying to make? If you need an example of a dedicated nazi who didn't slaughter innocent people think of Michael Wittman. Just because most muslims aren't going to blow themselves up doesn't mean they don't hate/dislike you, should you revoke their freedom of speech because of it?

What i'm trying to say is that no _idea_ should be taboo. Everyone should have the right to say what they think. Ofc acting on an idea is different than having an idea but i guess you already figured that out.

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"Terrorist" websites

is that one that thretons to blow up other websites unless this interwebs is flown to mars?

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Black Helicopters

All is fair etc etc

This is a declared war between El Queda and the US, not some difference of opinion over political ideology.

The Propaganda battle ans Psyops are almost as important as the guns and bullets battles.

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Stop

All is farce etc

Last I checked, there was no country named AlQuaidistan, contrary to what governor Putsch may have led people to believe. No head of state, no war.

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Black Helicopters

What price a choice

The problem is that since the intertubes are awash with computer bots , but shutting down one network what you are basically letting the dogs know you are around the corner sniffing , but at the same time the smarter ones are learning by evolution on the numerous other open back doors and open windows , proxy servers and the like that exist to bypass the one door that you closed in their face as the intertubes have endless corridors of opportunity by it's inherent design to bypass all varieties of deliberate roadblocks and information can be so easily back packed on other data channels endlessly to be reassembled else where .

As the Washington Post reporter lamented recently in Afghanistan , the enemy is fully capable of learning very quickly from mistakes made by both sides and will boot you in the A***e without hesitation when you relax your guard for just one split second , go ask the top notch Oz SAS about that one or the not as bright Blair's much under resourced blighty territorials/regulars mob losing the plot in Helmland province too .

So now the enemy is fully aware as to the extent of the adherents of the "Peter Principle" sent out to track them down or run interference and the next time these idiots are in for a very big nasty surprise if they try this trick or ruse again of a big swift boot in the A***e whilst they are congratulating themselves of a job not well done !

Choices indeed as evolution wins every time !

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it is simple to me

i really do find this put in simple context

i am against censorship but this is virtual terrorism of the terrorist, and i would encourage every able fingered hacker to do the same to any and all terrorist organisations.

if Al-Qaeda were undertaking 'freedom fighting' in their own back yard then i would happily support them, but they are out to do one thing and one thing only, cause terror the world over for their own ends. for this, they get ZERO sympathy from me.

theirs is a global agenda with not one trace of noble intent and i cannot see any problem with taking down their propaganda in the virtual world ... more of the same please

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NOT so clever

Bit of a screw-up on the old tradecraft front, there: just like announcing they'd Osama bin Laden's satphone details, which lost a good source of info when it was dumped for another one.

I'd have thought it was obvious that if you'd info on a website where your enemies where likely to be discussing stuff, you'd want to keep it up and running so you could monitor it, and not visibly compromise it so the bad guys would go off and set up a new one elsewhere....

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@ Ned Fowden

"if Al-Qaeda were undertaking 'freedom fighting' in their own back yard then i would happily support them, but they are out to do one thing and one thing only, cause terror the world over for their own ends. for this, they get ZERO sympathy from me."

I could make a very similar argument about America. Nobody asked you to "bring democracy to the middle east" and it was clearly done for no other reason than to secure US hegemony.

The US is not the poor, blameless victim in this.

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Black Helicopters

@Richard

<quote>

Also, at no point did I mention communism. I do distinguish between between communism and fascism. The former does not _have_ to lead to racial purges, but tends to as a result of the paranoid totalitarian government that seeks to run it.

</quote>

Richard - I think that you have a minor error in your argument.

Nazism != Fascism

This would be like claiming that communism is the same as Stalinism. In fact, if anything Stalinism ~ Nazism. Both are leader worship forms of government with an extreme hatred of almost all except the leadership class. Both claimed to be a different form of government then they were. Both killed their own people just for the purpose of hatred. Both gave everything to the leader - with no questions asked.

Other then that - both were among the most repugnant points in history that humans have ever reached. I say among - because we have Pol Pot, Darfur, The former Yugoslavia, etc. I am not certain which would rank as worst. Now can I go someplace and hide?

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Conpiracy Theories

While I'm not an advocate of the X-Files/Conspiracy theories; every time I hear about a 'foiled terrorist attack' I do often wonder the following things;

1) why do they only seem to catch the muppets who try to blow up planes with fizzy pop and chapatis but not the serious ones who actually kill people?

2) how the governments of both the uk and usa had a nice raft of freedom robbing laws ready just waiting for an emergency to justify their implimentation

3) They got Saddam and all his mates in a flash but Osama evades them after how long? Where the heck is he hiding?

4) How many bloody Leiutenants does Al-Queda have? The seem to 'catch' one of them every few weeks

5) Why hide the terrorists aways an 'interrogate' them in secret places off american soil?

I could go on but even I, a sceptic of the current trend for seeing a conspiracy on every corner, am beginning to wonder...

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@AC - aka F@#$wad

<quote>

The government though should grow a pair, drop this "zero profiling" approach and admit that young muslim males are most likely to carry explosives etc on to planes so likely will be stopped and searched on a very frequent basis,

</quote>

So were you just born stupid or did the doctor drop you on your head a hundred or so times. You of course know that profiling is at best worthless. In fact, I have been profiled so many times that my kids start laughing where we walk into airports in the US. For a long time, every time I went through security I would be frisked. My kids even took a video one of the times... Am I Muslim? Am I Jewish? Am I XX? Does it matter? (I happen to be a 'mutt,' e.g a typical American.) I am not a terrorist. Why are the security agents wasting time looking at me? While they are wasting their time - the real problem people walk right through. Great way to run security. Perhaps it would be better to have the government grow a brain.

Moron.

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Stop

If Censorship is the answer...

... It was a bloody stupid question!

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*sigh*

Didn't take Moore's law too long to kick in on this one.

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*sigh*

Didn't take Godwin's Law too long to kick in on this one.

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Anonymous Coward

War on propaganda

Could this make taking Fox News off the air fair retaliation? I really hope so.

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Pirate

Censorship vs. breaking apart enemy propaganda networks

Censorship is limiting what your own people say, write, or have access to watch, listen to, or read. This is more like sabotage of enemy propaganda outlets. It's a thin line sometimes, but the key is clearly identifying the enemy and being very strict about not crossing that line. You might argue, then, that the line is too fuzzy or that someone has crossed it, but to insist there's no delineation give more respect to Orwell's brilliance as an author than to the simple truth.

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Stop

@Frank Gerlach

"If you start killing people, the only thing you can beg for is a humane death..."

Does this extend to the massive (some would say disproportionate) levels of death caused by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, or is this something you reserve only for the foreigners?

The scale of civilian deaths in Iraq far outweighs the deaths of US/UK citizens and military personnel in all engagements, including the tragic events of 9/11.

Wearing a uniform doesn't make it 'right and just'.

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Go

The New Battlefield.

One of the fundamental mistakes of 'our side' in the so-called 'war on terror' is the propagation of the fundamental idea that we can fight it using conventional weapons and tactics. 'Shock & Awe', occupational forces, uniformed troops, committees, legislations, sanctions - These methods will simply not function against an enemy (real or imagined can be debated elsewhere, I am, for the moment, assuming the enemy and the threat is real and as described by our overlords *ahem*).

The use of massive force to supress these 'terror cells' simply leads to large scale suffering and, as a consequence, the alienation of civilian populations will lead, inevitably, only to a strengthening of our enemies. Therefore, I can only applaud those who take the fight to 'the new battlefield' as chosen by those same enemies.

If Al Qaeda want to fight a propaganda war using the internet, then they had best be ready to do battle there and I suspect they are woefully under-equipped to do so.

Bottom line : I'd rather that a few websites got trashed than any more people die in bombings, be they from suicide-looneys or from tactical short range laser-guided munitions.

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Whate are you Teamz Amerika guys thinking?

It's not a matter of them bein terr'ists or not. You can be sure that the website is back up again in a form or another, only less monitored by the CIA and co now. It was a stupid, useless, dumb, cretinous thing to do. Not to mention that it's still very questionnable, ethically speaking (not that I expect any merkin warmonger to be familiar with the notion, of course).

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