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Hacking the new battling lingo

Dealing with sites that promote violence, sex, cruelty and extreme groups like al-Qaeda on the Internet is a concern for governments around the world, in the absence of universal legislation that clearly defines ways of dealing with sites that violate the laws. Pakistan has thousands of such websites online which inspire youth against violence, who fall prey to attractive incentives. Everyday hundreds of Indian websites are hacked by Pakistani hackers and the so called cyber war has given a jolt to the crucial database of the government. There are many business houses, corporate sectors that are unaware that someone has penetrated into their machine and thieving their data. There are always hidden threats from the neighbouring countries China and Pakistan. Nowadays, China is fully equipped with their cyber army to attack Indian domains. Unfortunately, if some neighbouring countries hacks in our website and steals our intellectual property then it is not considered as a crime in our country. However, if Indian ‘patriotic’ hacker or for that matter any hacker ‘takes revenge’ and teaches them a same lesson by hacking their websites, then they are prosecuted under stringent laws. Crippled judiciary and inefficient police have always failed to stop online crime. When our government is so ‘helpless’ then they should allow hackers groups in India such as ‘Indian Cyber’ groups to deface such sites and prevent terror, violence and crime.

The issue of the promotion of violence and terrorism on the Internet has always garnered the attention of security services, but interest in it has increased dramatically since a failed plot to blow up a commercial US airliner in December 2006 at the hands of young Nigerian Umar Farooq, who was influenced by Anwar Awlaki, the Yemeni-American activist who is currently hiding in Yemen from where he promotes al-Qaeda in his online sermons. Recently, the Secretary-General of International Police (Interpol), Ronald K. Noble, hinted at the difficulty that security services encounter in tackling this type of sites on the Internet, the number of extremist websites rose from just 12 sites in 1998 to 14500 sites in 2010. The jihadis use internet discussion forums focused on Arabic-language forums since they are the principal platform promoting the ideology of al-Qaeda. This is attributed to the organisation not having an official site speaking for it, relying instead on sites that promote and publish its statements and the statements of its branches around the world.  Some of the most prominent forums that promote al-Qaeda (topped by the al-Fallujah and Shumoukh al-Islam forums) and the number of participants, noting that there are two different trends of sites adherent to al-Qaeda, the first is the traditionalists’ trend, which includes participants in the forums of those who follow the ideology expressed by al-Qaeda leaders such as Osama Bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. These appear to be mostly people eager to participate in what they see as an act of “jihad” without actually learning about differing views that could enable them to change their convictions, or at least re-consider them.

There are now about 15,600 Web sites spreading al Qaeda’s ideology worldwide, and 1000 more are appearing each year. These kinds of websites are challenge to Information Technology and National Security and it is difficult to track most of the sites as these hardcore al Qaeda sites often change addresses to avoid detection or start up again elsewhere once infiltrated.

One member wrote of suicide missions: If you can blow dozens of people up at the same time, great, absolutely great.

In another vile message a member praised a beheading video of British hostage Ken Bigley. It said: I like the beheading videos of the prisoners of war especially the Daniel Pearl and Ken Bigley one.

But the Department for Communities and Local Government agreed to fund the groups’ film on problems faced by UK Muslims. We can’t prevent violent extremism if we arent prepared to talk about the issues Pakistan is no stranger to state-sanctioned censorship. Since the 1950s, successive governments, both military and civilian, have taken pains to ensure that the media has been scrutinised, censored and harassed.

Even as the twenty-first century has dawned upon Pakistan, the cycle continues. In 2009, the Pakistan government removed videos, of a Pakistan Army officer allegedly beating a Swat resident, from YouTube. Later on, videos of President Zardari saying shut up to a supporter at a public gathering were erased off of YouTube. In 2009, following a petition in the courts, the Lahore High Court slapped a ban on Facebook, which was later lifted. Even, which documents crimes committed against the Ahmadi sect, is routinely banned by the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA).Which makes it even all the more surprising that with such stringent control over the media and the internet, the Pakistan government has so far, turned a blind eye to the abundance of religious hate material that is floating around and readily available on the internet.

Ansar Al Jihad Networks website is another popular jihadi website that is accessible in Pakistan. The forum has been closed for membership, but features videos, press releases and discussion about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While one could not see the discussion on the forums, it is astounding to see the sheer number of videos that have been produced by the As-Sahab Foundation for Islamic Media Publication, Al-Qaedas media cell, featuring members of the Taliban that have been killed, or messages from current Taliban leaders fighting in Afghanistan and has archival footage of As-Sahab productions, with multiple links to download, for example Ayman-Al-Zawahiri videos. And if you cant find what youre looking for, one can even ask a mujahedeen. The conditioning of young minds towards violence has rampaged.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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