Friday, February 27, 2004

Feeling lousy. My ears are blocked, my throat hurts and I'm sneezing which just hurts the throat even more. Can't really think of anything interesting to write. Zero inspiration. Have been looking at lots of depressing websites in the last few days and it's starting to rub off on me. I was asked to write something for my institute's magazine - about terrorism on the web - what I've managed is below:


War on the web.

The so-called “War on Terrorism” is being fought on many battlefields; from Afghanistan, to the Philippines, from Yemen, to back-streets of European cities. But also there has been another battleground - one where any could join in the fight: the worldwide web.

In this modern world, one needs to have a website. On Hamas’s website, you can study the technical specifications of the homemade “Qassam 2” rockets, learning that they are “not a precision weapon” but that they “can hit metropolitan targets”, and even that they have a “possible” non-conventional capacity. Most chillingly of all you can download “martyrdom videos”, and watch the recorded last words of young men going off to kill as many Israelis as they can, and themselves, with bombs strapped around their waists.

Hamas may not be shy, but then neither are their enemies. Israeli and pro-Israeli websites proliferate on the net, but one of the more interesting one in Electronic Haganah. Based in Illinois, the site calls itself an “electronic counter-insurgency” – it has extended beyond just anti-Israeli groups to any militant Islamist group worldwide who has a presence on the internet. The site uncovers the companies who are renting web-space to these groups and then approaches them directly asking them to close the sites down. This has led to the disappearance of many Islamist and jihadi websites, or at the very least makes them move addresses often. Internet Haganah might not fit with some people’s politics, but its database of websites (both active and inactive) is a very extensive collection of links to the websites of radical Islamist groups worldwide.

Others take more direct actions. There are both “Islamic hacker” websites, and hacker sites run by self-styled “American Patriot Militias”. Now when you try to visit a former prominent pro-al Qaeda site you get the message “hacked, tracked and now owned by the USA” over an American eagle. Interestingly has become something of an internet outlaw – hiding, illegally, in legitimate websites without the knowledge of their owners. Those who are interested in the site reportedly are told its newest address in chat-rooms and on bulletin boards that are frequented by Islamist militants. Once discovered again by law enforcement or pro-US/Israeli groups, it just disappears again, reappearing at a later date.

There are many more established militant sites, such as the British-based that issues statements in the name of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, that have managed to withstand hacking attacks from web-vigilantes and pressure placed on their service providers. even has a statement warning Muslims that participating in the festivals of the Kuffar – the non believers – such as Christmas, is Haraam – forbidden. The statement was released by “Hizb ut-Tahrir Scandinavia.”


A lot of anger and hate, although I guess pouring it out into web-design is less damaging than into certain other activities.

Still depressing but much more beautiful, I recently discovered the Sobaka magazine website. This one article in particular impressed me more than anything I've read on the internet for a long time, although it did nothing to lighten my mood.

I want to spend the weekend outside playing in the fresh snow, but unless I start feeling better that clearly isn't going to be a bright idea.