Actions speak louder than words. Apparently this campaign excludes Syria where Obama fights on the same side as the jihadists, has supplied money, arms and training, and granted permission for Muslims in the U.S. to do the same. And not punished Muslims who waged jihad in Syria and returned to the U.S.
h/t Atlas Shrugs who writes: “Read the Quran! The State department is still trying to understand what inspires jihadists?”
WASHINGTON — Concerned by the attempts of Al Qaeda and its global affiliates to attract more Americans and other Westerners, the State Department is stepping up its online efforts to combat violent extremists’ recruiting of English speakers.
The campaign is starting at a time when intelligence officials say dozens of Americans have traveled or tried to travel to Syria since 2011 to fight with the rebels against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen now puts English subtitles on its website propaganda. The Shabab, the Islamist extremist group in Somalia, publish an English-language online magazine.
State Department officials acknowledge that the new program is a modest trial run that faces a vast array of English-language websites, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and Facebook pages that violent extremist groups have established largely uncontested in the past few years. But American and European intelligence officials warn that Al Qaeda’s efforts to recruit English-speaking fighters could create new terrorist threats when the battle-hardened militants return home.
For the past three years, a small band of online analysts and bloggers in a tiny State Department office have focused their efforts on trying to understand what inspires their target audience — men 18 to 30 years old, mostly in the Middle East — to violent extremism, and on finding ways to steer them away from that. The analysts speak Arabic, Urdu, Somali and Punjabi.
In the pilot program that began Wednesday, the same analysts will for the first time also post messages on English-language websites that jihadists use to recruit, raise money and promote their cause. For now, the analysts will post only images and messages, not engage extremists in online conversations, as they do in the other languages.
“We need to be ready to blunt their appeal,” said Alberto M. Fernandez, a former American ambassador to Equatorial Guinea who is the coordinator of the State Department office, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.
Financing delays and bureaucratic inertia have in the past hampered Mr. Fernandez’s center and its three dozen staff members. But State Department officials said that the Boston attack and mounting evidence of Al Qaeda’s appeal to English speakers also focused attention on the problem in recent months at other agencies, including the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon, as well as, most important, the White House.
Officials said they would adjust the messages if necessary, and would decide in the next several months whether to make the effort permanent, and possibly expand it. Gauging the effort’s effectiveness will be challenging, but even interrupting Al Qaeda’s unimpeded English-language efforts would amount to a modest success, officials said.
What’s the budget for tweeting? Five or ten years ago they could have supported legions of bloggers who worked for free shutting down jihadi websites, flagging jihadi videos on Youtube and mapping internet providers who hosted jihadi websites. Instead, listening to so-called experts, they wanted to monitor jihadi chat rooms. Twelve years later al Qaeda has morphed and expanded and the jihad is growing.
Follow the folly, it should get interesting and comical once the #thinkagainturnaway hashtag gets hijacked.
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