Hunting Zarqawi on the Web

Is the FBI seriously tracking down terrorist websites? I doubut it.

This Newsweek piece lays on the excuses for why the job of tracking these websites is so difficult. If informal networks of bloggers and amateur terrorist trackers can keep tabs on them why not the FBI? Pretty amazingly pathetic.

Dan, over at Riehl World View, also makes a few keen observations here. What many readers may not be aware of is that most terrorist websites are hosted by companies in either the U.S. or Europe.

Posted by: Rusty at 08:47 AM


1 If informal networks of bloggers and amateur terrorist trackers can keep tabs on them why not the FBI?

This is the crux of the issue - "networks". Terrorists and their supporters are networks. Bloggers who track the terrorist sites are too composed of networks. The FBI is not a network, but a hierachical bureacracy. This is a network-centric war. Networks are able to process large quantities of information in a rapid way and to disburse this information to their members quickly and effectively.

This is a mirror image of the problems our military has with fighting the insurgency in Iraq or tracking Bin Laden.

Hierarchical, bureacratic structures have many resources behind them, but they are cumbersome in their decision making process, requiring the bureacratic interplay (read: turf war) among individuals as a natural part of daily life. These structures are also rigid in the way they embrace change, such as new technologies, techniques, the incorporation of able personnel with specific talents or ideas, etc.

Networked terrorists are the exact opposite of this. While they may not have many resources behind them, their leadership structure can be boiled down to a handful of individuals (who even then tell members to work independently). Each individual is free to contribute as much as possible within their talent, without regard for bureacratic red tape in the implementation of new ideas, technology and strategies. Once an idea, technology, strategy, etc., has been found to be successful, it is immediately implemented within the entire network. Networks are very capable at rapidly evolving this way.

The FBI is not even close to the Army in become network oriented, and the Army is far behind the terrorists (but getting a little better).

This is why informal networks of bloggers will have more success in tracking terrorist websites. Bloggers can bring thousand of individuals to bear against a single site, or disperse in a continous, passive search for vile content. How will the FBI justify spending more than 1 or 2 guys on something like this, which may be protected under free speech (they will have to check with the legal department and make a political decision - bureacracy). Bloggers can within hours spread word about using something like WHOIS, but the FBI will have to contact technical support, who will contact the legal department to obtain a warrant for the ISP where the content is hosted, get it passed by a judge, go to the ISP, start fighting a battle over privacy, win the battle and then find out who own the domain and... do nothing because legal department says this is free speech after all.

Posted by: electronicIDF at March 29, 2005 10:27 AM

2 I can't believe it took them this long to get onto 357Hosting. I posted about them and their web of terrorist sites a month ago. And two months ago I posted about informationclearinghouse hosting terrorist videos for Newsweek could have done their whole story just by reading the blogs.

Posted by: The Dread Pundit Bluto at March 29, 2005 10:38 AM

3 Try this:

Posted by: Collin Baber at March 29, 2005 07:06 PM

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