How Are Terrorists Using the Internet to Spread Their Message of Hate?

By Robert Kaye

We’re at war. 

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You may recall that some of our earlier blogs discussed how major U.S. corporations, various government agencies (including the FBI, and the military), financial institutions and its citizens – you and me – are being attacked by individual, criminal syndicates and foreign government-sponsored hackers. (See our previous blogs such as “ The Hack Attack is BackWho Wears a Black Hat on the Wild, Wild Web?  How Close is the US to Experiencing a Digital Pearl Harbor?” and others.)

The frightening news is that these aren’t the only groups using the Internet for nefarious purposes. Many Islamic terrorist organizations are using the Internet to further their sworn campaign to conquer the Western world. These groups don’t want peace. They don’t want an equal place at the world of nations. The Islamic terrorists and countries such as Iran want to destroy Israel, and from there, to conquer Europe, the U.S., and the democratic world at-large. They want their own flag of religious zealotry and intolerance to wave over the White House, Buckingham Palace, Palais de l'Élysée, 24 Sussex Drive, and the Knesset, establishing an Islamic caliphate around the world. 

Jihad-hacking the Internet

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In 2011, the Congressional Research Service issued a detailed report entitled, “Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace.” Its introductory paragraph states: “The Internet is used by international insurgents, jihadists, and terrorist organizations as a tool for radicalization and recruitment, a method of propaganda distribution, a means of communication, and ground for training. Although there are no known reported incidents of cyberattacks on critical infrastructure as acts of terror, this could potentially become a tactic in the future.” It is known, however, that our utility providers are being attacked by hackers on a daily basis.

Furthermore, in its chapter entitled, “Why and How International Terrorists Use the Internet,” the report elucidates that “Terrorists make use of the Internet in a variety of ways, including what are often referred to as ‘jihadist websites.’” Violent Islamic groups draw on the Koran and other Islamic religious texts to adapt historical and mythological events to current circumstances. This approach is prominently displayed in jihadists’ use of the Internet for their own recruiting and propaganda purposes. 

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“The Internet is used as a prime recruiting tool for insurgents,” the report states. “Extremists use chat rooms, dedicated servers and websites, and social networking tools as propaganda machines, as a means of recruitment and organization, for training grounds, and for significant fund-raising through cybercrime. These websites and other Internet services may be run by international terrorist groups, transnational cybercrime organizations, or individual extremists. YouTube channels and Facebook may radicalize Western-based sympathizers, and also provide a means for communication between these ‘lone wolf’ actors and larger organized networks of terrorists. The decentralized nature of the Internet as a medium and the associated difficulty in responding to emerging threats can match the franchised nature of terrorist organizations and operations. It is unclear how great a role the Internet plays in coordinating the efforts of a single group or strategy.”

The report goes on to point out that many Arabic-language websites purportedly contain coded plans for new attacks. Some supposedly give advice on how to build and operate weapons and then how to smuggle them through border checkpoints. Other news articles report that a younger generation of terrorists and extremists, such as those behind the July 2005 bombings in London, have learned new technical skills to help them avoid detection by various nations’ law enforcement computer technologies. I'll discuss more about this is subsequent segments.

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According to the report, one website reportedly carries a downloadable “e-jihad” application, whereby a user can choose an Internet target and launch a low-level cyberattack, overwhelming the targeted website with traffic in order to deny its service. Several jihadist websites contain instructions for building kinetic weapons, such as bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), as well as for conducting surveillance and target acquisition.

“Cybercrime has now surpassed international drug trafficking as a terrorist financing enterprise,” the report continues.  These may include Internet-based Ponzi schemes, identity theft, counterfeiting, and other types of computer fraud, which have all netted various terror enterprises with significant profits under a cloak of anonymity.  More disconcertingly, it states, “There may be some evidence that terrorist organizations seek the ability to use the Internet itself as a weapon in an attack against critical infrastructures.”

Recently, groups such as Islamic State (IS) have posted videos and images of beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions and other gruesome acts to heighten the West’s “fear factor” about its barbaric practices and as part of its ongoing recruitment campaign. Other Islamic terrorist organizations have also used the "regular Internet" and the Darknet for recruiting would-be militant jihadists. Some additional uses: 
  • Facebook fan pages
  • Online chat rooms
  • Free email for transmitting encrypted emails
  • VOIP phone calls
  • Laundering money via bit coins

Who Are These People in Masks and Keffiyahs?

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Terrorism has existed since before biblical times. The history of terrorism is as old as humans' willingness to use bloodshed to influence policies and politics. 

The massacre of the Israeli sports team by the Palestinian terror group, Black September, during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany radically changed the U.S.’ perception of and subsequent handling of terrorism. 

According to the U.S. Department of State, there are nearly 60 active terrorists groups around the world.  Some, such as the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO), have been active since 1997; others, such as the Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC), originated as recently as this past August. 

Today, religiously motivated terrorism is considered the most alarming of threats. Throughout history, many mainstream religions have had their own share of fringe terrorist groups. However it is today’s radical, militant Islamic terrorist groups ― Khorasan, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, Muslim Brotherhood, Boko Haram and others ― that are some of the most dangerous.

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According to Islamic terrorism is a form of terrorism committed by Jihadists. It has occurred globally, including in Africa, Australia, Middle East, Israel, Europe, South and Southeast Asia, South America, The Caucasus, The Pacific and North America. Terrorist organizations linked to Islam have been known to engage in a variety of often violent tactics including suicide attacks, bombings, spree killings, hijackings, kidnappings, beheadings, and recruiting new members through the Internet.” To that list of crimes you can also add mass rape, building a vast network of terror tunnels and using human shields.

Funding Fanaticism

Different groups receive operating capital by various means. Some, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, are in-part state-funded. They receive money from countries that are anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-democratic and anti-Western. Iran is the major financier of Islamic terror organizations; in fact, terror is one of that country’s largest exports. “Since the declaration of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, the government of Iran has been accused by members of the international community of funding, providing equipment, weapons, training and giving sanctuary to terrorists,” says Wikipedia.

The U.S. State Department describes Iran as being an “active state sponsor of terrorism.” “Islamic Jihad” is widely believed to be the nom de guerre of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other jihadist groups, which have repeatedly received millions of dollars of financial backing, considerable training, tons of military materiel, and logistical support from Iran.  

Other countries that continue to fund and support terrorist organizations:

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Hamas has also stolen money that was previously earmarked for the Palestinian Authority (which receives billions of dollars of aid from the U.S.). Hamas leaders are known for their wealth and accumulated assets.  A report published by Israel’s “Ynet” news site claims that they and their associates have been scoring multi-million dollar deals and lining their pockets with public funds. They’re involved in land sales, purchasing luxury villas, and trading in black-market fuel from Egypt, but they primarily profit via an ongoing smuggling business through tunnels from the Sinai into Gaza, the report says.

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Incidentally, some of these funds have gone directly into the pockets of Hamas’ top-ranking personnel, such as its billionaire leader Khaleed Mashal, who is living in luxury in Qatar.  

Even the Palestinian Authority has publicly accused Hamas of stealing $700 million that was originally given as aid to the citizens of Gaza. The Arab news site, “Ahram” reports that a Fatah spokesman, Ahmed Assaf, speaking to the “Awda channel,” stated that Hamas received this vast sum of money donated by Muslims from around the world during Operation Protective Edge, but didn’t use the funds for the benefit of the residents of Gaza.  Assaf further accused the terrorist organization of exploiting “the circumstances of war and death and destruction to collect money at the expense of the blood of the children of Palestine.”

Jihadist terror organizations also sell contraband, female sex slaves, traffic drugs and sell arms as a means to raise working capital. IS has been partially funding itself from the sale of oil since it captured various oil wells and processing facilities while reigning havoc and death throughout Iraq and Syria.  That’s one reason the U.S. and several Arab countries have conducted air attacks on oil wells and processing facilities in Iraq and Syria over the past few weeks.  According to Vox: “Unlike some other Islamist groups fighting in Syria, [IS] doesn't depend on foreign aid to survive. In Syria, they've built up something like a mini-state: collecting the equivalent of taxes, selling electricity, and exporting oil to fund its militant activities.” IS also extorts money from humanitarian workers and, in a bizarre business arrangement, sells electricity back to the Syrian government that it's currently fighting. 

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These Islamic militant terror organizations, backed by Iran and others, will stop at nothing to destroy Israel, the U.S., and the West. This is stated specifically in their charters, and is frequently reiterated by militant Islamic clergy members and political leaders:

"This is Islam, that was ahead of its time with regards to human rights in the treatment of prisoners, but our nation was tested by the cancerous lump, that is the Jews, in the heart of the Arab nation ... Be certain that America is on its way to utter destruction, America is wallowing [in blood] today in Iraq and Afghanistan, America is defeated and Israel is defeated, and was defeated in Lebanon and Palestine ... Make us victorious over the community of infidels ...”  Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Bahar, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council

We’re at war. 

In this first segment of “How Are Terrorists Using the Internet to Spread Their Message of Hate?” I provided an overall view of how terrorist organizations ― particularly Islamic fundamentalist terror groups ― are using the Internet to further their ongoing mission to destroy Israel, the U.S. and the West. I also discussed which countries are sponsoring these groups, and provided an overview as to how some of the groups are funded.  In the next segment, I’ll explore in greater detail some of the online tactics jihadist terrorist groups are using to further their aims, and also discuss other contemporary issues pertaining to these militant Islamic groups.  If you found this article interesting, please share and forward. If you’d like to leave a comment or question, please do so in the Comments section below.

If you would like to get a copy of our free ebook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st. Century", fill in the form below.

Robert Kaye is an internationally published, multi-award-winning writer and editor.  To date, he’s been published over 450 times in a wide variety of print and electronic media (Internet, TV, radio, and podcasts). He currently serves as the Associate Producer for Working the Web to Win.

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Can DIY SEO Work For Your Business?

By Carl Weiss & Hector Cisneros

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If you own a small business and have a website, or plan to launch a basic business website in order to get more visibility, no doubt you’ve heard about the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website. This is especially important if you plan on selling goods directly on your site.  The rub is that many times web designers spend more time fretting on form rather than function.  As a result, many websites we’ve surveyed don’t have many of the On-Page SEO elements that are needed to get properly indexed by the search engines.   

 To address this issue, you need to either hire a knowledgeable optimization expert, or you can try a little DIY action.  When you consider the number of website analysis programs on the market, DIY SEO isn’t that difficult of an undertaking. In fact, if you invest a couple of hours a month on your website’s SEO then you can DIY it, and be successful.

Keywords Are the Key

Before you start your analysis, it’s important you select the right keywords or phrases for your website. Inother words, you need to select the words or phrases that someone would enter in the search engines in order to find businesses like yours. For example, if you have a beauty supply business, you must have the s “beauty supply” somewhere in your domain. Or, if your business is an automotive detailing business, then you must have the keywords “automotive” and “detailing” somewhere in your domain name.

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Now that you have some samples lined up, you need to sort them out.  The best way to do this is by entering your keywords and phrases into Google’s Keyword Planner, which is found by accessing your Adwords account.  (If you don’t have an Adwords account, you can set one up by going to The tab for the Keyword Planner is located under the Tools tab at the top right of the page. Once you enter your samples into the Keyword Planner’s lineup, it will come back with the traffic count for each and every keyword or phrase entered.  More importantly, it will also suggest other keywords and phrases along with their respective traffic counts.  Be certain not to select too many keywords or choose ineffective keywords with little or no traffic.  The Keyword Planner is the perfect tool to help you identify the best keywords to target for your business.

Once you have selected the right keywords or phrases for your site, now you plug them in.  There are four
main areas where you need to apply these keywords, namely your Meta Tags, the ALT Tags, and at the
beginning and the end of your website. The Meta Tags are located directly below the Title Tag.

  For example: 

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<Meta name="keywords" content="Jacksonville Video Production | Jacksonville Video Production Companies | Jacksonville Videographer”>

<Meta name="description" content="Jacksonville Video Production and Viral Video Marketing. Local, Affordable and Effective. 3D Animation & Motion Graphics. 904-410-2091"/>

Next comes the ALT Tags, which are descriptors used at the end of the code for every image on your website.  Since search engine spiders can’t “see” images, these descriptors tell the spiders what the image is. While many people ignore the ALT tags, this is a mistake, since they’re another way to let the search engines know how to rank your site.  Below is some sample code that shows you what an ALT tags look like.  One way to up the ante in reaching Page One of any search engine is to ensure all of your ALT tags are complete:

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<img id="JaxVideoProdlogo" src="Resources/jaxvideoprodlogo.png" width=366 height=74 alt="Jacksonville Video Production Logo">

Next, you need to include the keywords in your content. Whether you’re creating verbiage for your website, blog or video, you need to find a way to insert the keywords and phrases into each and every one of these.  Just don’t go overboard with the keyword density or you risk being penalized by the very search engines you are trying get to find you.  (In fact, there is a Black Hat SEO term, “keyword stuffing,” which every search engine knows and loathes.)

So the key is to use the desired keywords in your content appropriately. In other words it shouldn’t look like keywords are thrown in unnecessarily. Content is designed first and foremost to be read by human beings.  This means that keywords should be used only in their proper time and place.  They should also be grammatically correct. 

Last but not least, the most important keyword or phrase should be used at the beginning and end of your website in a font that is bold and italicized.  This lets the spiders know that the word or phrase is important.  Incidentally, all the above is oftentimes referred to as On-Sight SEO.

Google Juice, the Other SEO 

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In today’s content-rich world, even the best On-page SEO isn’t sufficient to generate Page One results on most search engines.   To grab the spiders’ attention, you next need to start providing regular content that is valuable and interesting. (That’s right folks, the spiders have learned how to read.)  Providing fresh content on a regular basis has become king due to the increased competition of the marketplace. People are eager to learn what’s new and exciting with your business.  They want to know how you can help them save time and money or provide a valuable service.  They want to learn what other customers think about you.  Since most people rarely update their website, this makes it difficult for people and spiders to obtain the most current information about you and your business.  

That’s what blogs and social networks are all about.  They’re also good for creating backlinks to your website, which is another benchmark that the spiders use to rank sites.

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When it comes to self-promoting your website, you need to use both On-Page SEO and Google Juice (i.e., Off-site SEO) techniques. Once your website receives a good ranking on all the major search engines, it’s important that you don’t stop providing fresh content (i.e., blogs) and feeding your social nets.  You should continuously work for your Off-Page info each week so competitors can’t dominate your ranking. This requires less effort and time once your website receives good ranking. If you don’t the have time to promote your website, you can also outsource some or all of your online marketing tasks.  Just be certain to thoroughly evaluate any SEO expert you’re considering turning your web presence over to. Because the worst case scenario is you get “blacklisted” by the major search engines. Then you’re in real trouble.
In this article, I discussed several key things business owners can do themselves to enhance their website's Search Engine Optimiztin (SEO). I discussed On-Page actions such as the importance of Meta Tags and Alt Tags, and also discussed "Google Juice" or Off-Page DIYs such as writing blogs on a regular basis and updating one's social media sites. If you found this article useful, please feel free to share and repost it. I welcome your opinion and comments, just add them to the Comments section below.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we'll email it to you. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.

Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Webto Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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