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Tuesday: August 3, 2010

Psycho-Logical Warfare

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:19 PM UTC

Long War Journal reports that Al Qaeda’s Brigade 13 has established a website. I assume the NSA, CIA, DIA, and other organizations unknown to the general public are already competing to see who will be the first to hack into it and find ways to acquire (or insert) damaging information, but there’s another approach worth trying, which they may or may not have thought of. When you misspell the name of a very popular website, or type “.com” when it’s actually an .org or .net or .gov site, you often find yourself at a site run by parasites who will try to sell you porn or something. Why not do something similar with the Al Qaeda 13 site?

I don’t know what the common spelling errors of Arabic-speakers are, but it would be useful if someone hostile to Al Qaeda bought up all the domains likely to be visited by clumsy-fingered fans of Al Qaeda. What should be done with those domains? I can think of more than one possibility:

  1. Porn sites featuring Osama Bin Laden and partners of both genders, all ages, and more than one species, are one obvious possibility, but unsubtle.
  2. Straightforward argument might work in some cases. If thousands of alcoholics were looking for name-brand liquor sites on the web, some percentage would misspell the names. (Being alcoholics, this would be a fairly high percentage.) If those who did so found themselves at Alcoholics Anonymous websites, some (much smaller) percentage would no doubt stick around to read the message and some (even smaller) percentage might take it to heart and stop drinking, or try to. Something similar might be worth trying with Brigade 13.
  3. As a variation on the preceding, it might be more effective to provide a site that looks like the real site, but will gradually lead the unwary user to pages more and more likely to make him doubt the competence, the courage, the piety, and even the sanity of Brigade 13 and its leaders.
  4. Best of all, if it can be done, would be a site identical to the Al Qaeda Brigade 13 site, except that it has some carefully-hidden methods to track visitors and see who they are, who they know, and where else they go. I’m not sure how much information a site can get from its visitors, though I am sure that it partly depends on how much information they are willing to give. Even stealing the credit card numbers of Al Qaeda supporters could be considered a good thing. Does the real site sell T-shirts? I don’t read Arabic, Al Qaeda gives me the creeps, and I don’t want to be on some CIA list, so I haven’t gone to look at it. Perhaps Julian Assange would be willing to post stolen terror-fan credit-card numbers on WikiLeaks.
  5. Once the operators of the real site figure out what’s going on and warn their visitors, the game gets really interesting. The fake sites could all claim to be the real site and warn visitors away from the real site and all the other fake sites, pointing out all the little details that make each of the others an obvious CIA plant, while tooting their own horns and causing confusion and doubts among the faithful. Having the most idiomatic Arabic insults and obscenities would count for a lot. Do our intelligence services have linguists who can handle this?

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