DOD takes aim at jihadist Web sites

The number of such sites is now estimated to be in the thousands

Pentagon officials may be mum publicly about efforts to halt the spread of jihadist Web sites, but military and other intelligence agency officials say privately they are trying to limit the online recruiting and information dissemination efforts of militant Islamist groups.

A spokeswoman for the new Air Force Cyberspace Command declined to say whether the issue is on the command’s agenda, but Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne seems to be looking to the command for solutions. "The pervasive nature of pro-jihad Web sites represents a tangible and highly visible example of how our adversaries use elements of cyberspace against us,” he wrote in an article for the spring 2007 issue of the service publication Air & Space Power Journal.

Web sites aimed at attracting new generations of Islamic militants have multiplied steadily in recent years, and their number is now estimated to be in the thousands. Although tech-savvy extremists are known to attack Western computer networks through hacking and other means, many experts consider the silent spread of easy-to-set-up anti-American propaganda Web sites more dangerous because the military finds it difficult to stop. 

Information about concerted efforts by the Pentagon or other government agencies to fight the spread of Islamic anti-Western propaganda sites is difficult to obtain because most activities fall into the realm of secret intelligence operations.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, the incoming Army chief information officer, said the CIO’s office is only marginally involved in fighting Islamic extremist propaganda Web sites. He said others in the government, such as the Army’s intelligence branch and the National Security Agency, take a more active role.

Naval Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla, an adviser to the Pentagon on information operations and electronic warfare, would speak only in general terms about the military’s activities.

According to the school’s Web site, Arquilla is working for Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England on a classified study of deception operations against terrorist networks.

Arquilla said he works toward two goals:  discovering methods to exploit the widespread Internet use among militants Islamists and finding ways to deter extremists from using the Web if their activities in cyberspace cannot be exploited.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.