Monday, February 1, 2010

About the cyber-jihad

“We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.”
- Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda second-in-command, 2005

Most people in the Western world have never heard the term "cyber jihad." Of those who have heard of it, most define it as the use of the Internet to motivate, recruit and train violent jihadists (which is true; see a terrific segment on "60 Minutes" on this issue, "," here).  There is no question that jihadists consider the Internet to be their most important battlefield. Al Qaeda even has its own Web propaganda division.

Yet there are several additional, vital purposes of the cyber-jihad:
(1) To infiltrate Western websites and post pro-Islamist, anti-Western and anti-Semitic "comments" --- often while hiding behind Western-sounding screen names.
(2) To post materials that vilify America and Israel, and particularly their armed forces --- with little or no evidence.
(3) To post materials that falsely depict Islamist terror-supporters as being peaceful, and whitewashing their statements and acts. (Example here)
Here are some detailed articles and reports that document the cyber-jihad: 
Global Islamic Media Front Instructs Islamists to Infiltrate Popular Non-Islamic Forums to Spread Pro-Islamic State Propaganda, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), June 14, 2007.
The Use Of The Internet By Islamic Extremists, testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives' Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, by Bruce Hoffman, RAND Corporation, May 2006.
“E-Qaeda”: Jihadist Use Of The Internet, by Tim Pippard, Jane’s Strategic Advisory Services, April 16, 2009.
Symposium: Cyber-Jihad, with Dr. Jamie Glazov, Dr. Lawrence Prabhakar, Dr. Arie Kruglanski, and Neil Doyle, FrontPageMag, Febraury 28, 2008.
Terrorists Turn To The Web as Base Of Operations, by Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser, The Washington Post, August 7, 2005.
Islam in America Series: Internet Jihad, by Kathy Shaidle, RightSideNews, March 22, 2009.
Al Qaeda: ‘Kicking Butt’ Online, by Leela Jacinto, France24, February 29, 2008.
Internet Helped Flight 253 Suspect Radicalize, Attack Plane 'Within Weeks', by Tony Romm, The Hill, March 11, 2010.
“Bin Laden of the Internet”: Jihad against USA, by Welt Online (Germany), translated by Politically Incorrect News, March 18, 2010.
Hezbollah As A Case Study Of The Battle For Hearts And Minds -- Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage; Commemoration Center (IICC), June, 2007.

HuffPost as a willful, particularly dangerous facilitator of the cyber-jihad

HuffPost is the #1 most-read "news" site on the planet. It is supported by advertising from the biggest corporations in the world, based in large part on Arianna Huffington's repeated claims that it is a "nonpartisan news source," working hard to produce "great journalism":  As such, we contend that HuffPost has an obligation to adhere to the most basic rules of journalistic balance and fairness.

Instead, as our four years of documentation shows, HuffPost consistently uses its resources and influence in such a way that can only help to advance the cyber-jihad against its three primary targets: American and Israeli military personnel, and Jews around the world.
HuffPost advances the cyber-jihad by:
  • Applying an egregiously biased standard of what is newsworthy: if a story casts (or can be twisted to cast) the cyber-jihad's victims in a negative light, even without proof, it appears on the front page; if it casts them in a positive light or gives them credit for anything, it is ignored or buried.
  • Ignoring its own policies regarding user comments, so as to facilitate the outpouring of hatred and even threats and urgings of violence, in response to the incitement-based stories it publishes.  It then actively suppress users who attempt to defend the victim-group that HuffPost has vilified.
  • Whitewashing or downplaying the statements and actions of each victim-group's antagonists, including even Islamist terrorists who deliberately target and murder Jewish civilians.
  • Presenting a falsely benevolent, civilized image of militant Islamists and their enablers.

Below is information on how HuffPost employs these tactics against each victim group.

HuffPost's willful role in advancing the cyber-jihad against the U.S. military

Imagine you're in charge of a large organization, that has an employee with whom you've had little or no interaction - yet about whom you only hear the worst possible things.  That he's careless, a potential criminal, harms others for amusement, etc.

You rarely (if ever) hear any accounts of him performing heroic acts, or of overcoming difficult obstacles to achieve an assigned objective.

Now, imagine someone asks you to sum up your impression of this employee. What would you say? What could you say?

This, effectively, describes the "jihad" against the U.S. military that HuffPost has engaged in for the past four years:
  • It gives top-line coverage to the most inflammatory stories imaginable about American soldiers, in which they are accused of committing horrific acts of barbarism - even when it knows the implied allegations are false (at right), or that there is no evidence to support them (here). 
  • When facts emerge that show the story was bogus, or completely decontextualized, HuffPost puts up no corrections (let alone apologies).
  • When stories emerge of American soldiers performing acts of heart-wrenching heroism, even to the point of being killed in the process, HuffPost either buries them beyond the view of the casual reader - or ignores them altogether. Instead, as we've documented over and over again, HuffPost post stories about celebrity gossip, sexual exploits, cute animals and pure nonsense on its front page.
See detailed documentation at Archive of Anti-U.S. military bias, libels at HuffPost.

The U.S. military works for, and is accountable to America's civilians.  Our ability to make accurate assessments of our military's actions, strengths and weaknesses, is dependent on the quality of the information we receive about them.  Rather than providing us with this information, HuffPost has instead provided us with a deeply skewed, inflammatory perspective on military affairs that could only help undermine our support for our armed forces - a key objective of the cyber-jihad.

In its defense, HuffPost may point to items such as certain articles it publishes that raise awareness of the difficulties that American soldiers face upon returning to civilian life (example).  In our view, HuffPost's attempt to cast a halo over itself after its persistent, malicious acts against the U.S. military is another indication of its betrayal of even the appearance of responsible journalism.

HuffPost's willful role in advancing the cyber-jihad against Israel and Jews
HuffPost has also been inciting and tolerating hate against Israel and Jews in a similar manner as it does to the U.S. military --- but on a broader and more regular basis.
  • HuffPost consistently "frames" news stories concerning Israeli affairs in a way that incites inaccurate and/or unjustifiably negative perceptions of the Jewish state, and particularly its military. It does this primarily through the use of (a) inflammatory, misleading and/or decontextualized headlines and headline imagery, and (b) its use of "news" sources that harbor known or easily-discovered anti-Israel (if not pro-Islamist) biases — including the terrorist-friendly, notorious al Jazeera.
  • HuffPost gives front-page coverage to anti-Israel stories that it knows are not based in fact, and for which there is no supporting evidence. (Example at right.)
  • HuffPost allows its "reporters" to make inflammatory, libelous accusations on its front page against Israel, in spite of readily-available facts that show the accusations are lies. (Example: A claim that Israel is attempting "to exterminate Palestinians... through starvation")
  • When facts emerge that show a story it published was bogus, or completely decontextualized, HuffPost puts up no corrections (let alone apologies).
  • HuffPost approves and tolerates user comments submitted in response to this incitement, that contain incendiary, hate-filled libels, conspiracy theories and even threats against Israelis and Jews.  It does this even though its official comment policy prohibits such materials from being published.The heads of the two major Jewish organizations in America (ADL, AJC) have affirmed the anti-Semitic hatred that appears on HuffPost's pages. (HuffPost tried to obfuscate for this - but only until we were able to talk to the reporter.)

See our first major report on this issue:
The Stimulus And The (Approved) Response: Anti-Semitism and Israel-Hatred on Huffington Post (January 2010) 

Also see our massive amount of documentation to support these allegations at
Archive of anti-Israel, ant-Semitic bias, libels and hate at HuffPost

In his seminal essay Seeing Anti-Semitism In 3D, Natan Sharansky identified three key means of identifying anti-Semitism, especially when it is cloaked within supposed benevolent criticism of Israel: demonization, double-standards, and deligitimization.  We contend that HuffPost fits this description, but that given its size and immense influence, it is a particularly dangerous purveyor of anti-Semitic hate.

Why HuffPost's actions are particularly sinister, and dangerous

HuffPost's actions closely follow those of the most notorious anti-U.S., anti-Semitic, jihadist-friendly websites in the Arab world, including Al Jazeera and Al Manar.  One analyst recently documented HuffPost's symbiotic relationship with Al Jazeera.

HuffPost's actions, however, are particularly dangerous, as it is the #1 most-read "news" site on the planet. It is supported by advertising from the biggest corporations in the world.  

Further, the number of unique monthly visitors to HuffPost from Muslim-majority nations has doubled between fall 2010 and spring 2011 (when it stood at 700,000). Of these, 256,000 originate in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan.  Which would lead a reasonably intelligent person to ask, "What is it about HuffPost that would attract nearly 10,000 unique visitors a day from the three primary incubators and exporters of Islamist terror?"

Given all these facts, one cannot help but wonder:
If you share our concerns and would like to express your views directly to HuffPost's senior management, here's how. You might also consider contacting HuffPost's major advertisers, here.

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