The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed some disturbing information Thursday regarding the security of the United States.
As reported by The Washington Examiner, the DHS states that the Internet is making terrorism more efficient on a global scale and the US is at risk. According to a new bulletin, “We continue to face one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the homeland to commit terrorist attacks.”
The New York Times reports on how effective ISIS’ use of the Internet and social media has been. Authorities in India discovered a terrorist cell that had been trained, recruited, and armed via ISIS handlers over the Internet.
Every aspect of one terrorist attack was meticulously crafted from the ground up and carried out over the Internet. They recruited Mohammed Ibrahim Yazdani, helped him organize his own terror cell, vetted his new members, arranged for the delivery of weapons and chemicals needed to make explosives via hidden drops, and more — all over the Internet.
Terrorism analyst for Valens Global, Nathaniel Barr, says these handlers “are virtual coaches who are providing guidance and encouragement throughout the process – from radicalization to recruitment into a specific plot.”
He said this bond can last right up to the moment of carrying out a terrorist attack. “If you look at the communications between the attackers and the virtual plotters, you will see that there is a direct line of communication to the point where they are egging them on minutes, even seconds, before the individual carries out the attack,” Barr said.
In addition to moral support and guidance, this Internet proclivity solves the problem of any terrorist organization needing to establish cells abroad, and the lack of experience with new recruits. Traditionally, if one manages to have an effective recruiting technique in foreign countries, new recruits lack the training and resources to be very effective. ISIS has circumvented this problem by allowing its more experienced members to act as handlers for large numbers of inexperienced recruits over the Internet.
This Internet connectivity allows a new recruit in a developed country to carry out terrorist attacks with the efficiency and experience of a battle-tested jihadi from the war-torn Middle East. Once the new recruit is either dead or captured as a result of their mission, the handler can then move on to other recruits and start the process over again.
As long as the handlers remain undiscovered and can maintain Internet access they are effectively able to produce a steady stream of terrorist operatives — and even complete cells — around the world willing to die for their cause.
DHS is warning Americans that ISIS and other terrorists are using the Internet to encourage and train their followers to commit terror attacks. Are you worried about terror attacks occurring in the US?
Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, assured everyone that the DHS is working tirelessly to combat this continued threat. “Our enemies remain focused on attacking the United States, and they are constantly adapting,” Secretary Duke said. “DHS and its partners are stepping up efforts to keep terrorists out of America and to prevent terrorist recruitment and radicalization here at home, and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity.”
While it’s good news that the DHS is taking ISIS and its online efforts seriously, it’s difficult to combat and even detect terrorist movements in a sea of Internet activity. Finding these remote handlers is the only true way to end the ISIS threat.