Internet: A recruiting tool for terrorists
PHILADELPHIA - March 11, 2010 (WPVI) -- The Internet has become an invaluable platform for terrorists. It is a cheap and fast way for groups to get their message out there.
"The Internet has become one of their primary recruiting tools around the world," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC analyst.
He says because of blogs, social networking sites and search engines, groups don't have to actively go out and find a target audience; that audience comes to them.
"People who get involved in these things are typically not involved in the mainstream of life," Garrett said.
Case and point is Colleen LaRose, aka 'Jihad Jane.' who apparently spent hours isolated while surfing the internet; even her boyfriend was unaware of her communication with terrorist groups. Garrett says Colleen LaRose is exactly the kind of recruit terrorist groups are looking for.
"English speaking, US passport, ability to travel and it allows them to go into particular locations, including Jihad Jane, and sort of blend and not fit the stereotype of a Middle Eastern male," Garrett said.
But the internet is not the only recruiting tool terrorists use to infiltrate the US. Garrett says prisons are becoming a breeding ground for young English speaking terrorists.
Last September, Michael Finton of Illinois was arrested after allegedly trying to blow up a federal courthouse. Finton converted to Islam while serving in an Illinois prison for robbery and battery charges.
"You have imams inside prisons and they literally form cults inside the prisons," Garrett said.
So we know how the terrorists are recruiting, but how do we stop them? That is a bit complicated, especially when it comes to the internet.
"These websites are portholes and communities where like minded people interact, share ideas, ideas that are going to be protected under the first amendment," Dr. Rob D'Ovidio of Drexel University said.
But Garrett says in our prisons, we need to fight fire with fire by getting moderate imams and former radical Muslims to spread their own message.
"Talk to people and say, 'Look, this is not what it appears; this ends up being brainwashing," Garrett said.
new jersey, yemen, terrorism, al-qaida, local/state, erin o'hearn
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