e-Jihad and Cyber Warfare

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has long been a resource for information regarding Islamist media and the machinations of Jihad on the Internet. They have just released a comprehensive report on the subject titled "Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad".

The report is a must read for those who follow the e-Jihad as it outlines the players, goals and methodology they use to further ideology. Those of us that keep up with such things are already familiar with most of the players mentioned, personally I've followed some of these groups (Hackers al-Answar for example) for quite some time already. I still maintain the opinion that there is a core group of players that provide most of the (advanced) technical know-how for Al-Qeada and several of their sub groups and the rest a just motivated script kiddies.

I consider the bulk of cyber-jihadi's to have the proper motivation but lack the necessary skills to be truly successful at what they are attempting. That being said, it's just a matter of time before they reach a level of competency that may improve their chance of success considerably. It's up to law enforcement and counter terrorism agencies, with assistance from the civilian sector (namely technology service providers and the assorted counter-terrorism groups) to continue to pursue e-Jihad groups and disrupt their activities as needed. After reading the article in question I think you'll find it supports my own stance on the matter as outlined above.

Additionally, while it may not appear to the public at large that much attention is being paid to countering the Electronic Jihad I can assure you that there are competent people actively pursuing such groups and much progress is being made.

They are not as anonymous as they might think.

That being said, the extended entry is below the break.

"Electronic Jihad: A Nuisance or a Real Threat?"

The evidence presented here shows that electronic jihad is a form of cyber-warfare with ideological underpinnings and defined goals, which manifests in well-coordinated cyber-attacks. Examination of the websites reveals that the Islamist hackers maintain constant communication among themselves, share software and expertise and conduct debates on strategy and legitimate targets. There is also evidence of increasingly efficient coordination of attacks. The mujahideen's own statements show that they mean to position themselves as a formidable electronic attack force which is capable of inflicting severe damage - greater even than the damage caused by conventional terrorist attacks.

At the same time, however, the information presented here reveals a significant gap between the mujahideen's aspirations and their actual capabilities. Despite their self-proclaimed intention to target key economic and government systems and websites in order to bring about a total economic collapse of the West, Islamist websites provide no evidence that such targets have indeed been attacked. In actuality, most of the attacks documented on Islamist websites were aimed at sites that are seen by the mujahideen as morally corrupt or offensive to Islam. In addition, most of the attacks were carried out using unsophisticated methods which are not very likely to pose a significant threat to Western economic interests or sensitive infrastructure. In this respect, electronic jihad can still be seen, at least present, as a nuisance rather than a serious threat.

Nevertheless, it is important not underestimate the potential danger posed by this phenomenon. First, as shown above, at least two examples indicate that the mujahideen are already capable of compromising servers, even highly secure ones. Given the increasing communication and the constant sharing of expertise among Islamist hackers, [34] the gap between their goals and their actual capabilities is bound to narrow down. In other words, the mujahideenís persistent pursuit of expertise in the area of hacking, as reflected in numerous website postings, may eventually enable them to compromise Western websites of a highly sensitive nature.

Hat tip goes to "Technocrat".

Posted by: BlackFlag at 02:36 PM

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