on: November 30, 2015, 08:14:08 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by objectivist1
DID NEW JERSEY MUSLIMS CELEBRATE ON 9/11?
The facts and the eyewitnesses. Donald Trump's statement has been corroborated.
November 30, 2015 Danusha V. Goska
On November 21st, 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said to supporters in Birmingham, Alabama, "Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down."
Trump's assertion sparked a national verbal wrestling match. Mainstream media and cultural leaders rushed to insist that no American Muslims celebrated 9-11. George Stephanopoulos dismissed accounts as mere "internet rumor." Snopes' Kim LaCapria argued that Muslims celebration of 9-11 is a "claim [that] was long since debunked." LaCapria, quoting an American Psychological Association article, theorized that those who report seeing Muslims celebrate 9-11 suffer from false memory syndrome. The page LaCapria linked to makes no mention of the 9-11 terror attacks and LaCapria cites no research by any scholar who studied self-identified witnesses of Muslim celebrations in NJ. The New York Times wrote that "a persistent Internet rumor of Muslims celebrating in Paterson, N.J., was discounted by police officials at the time.
A search of news accounts from that period shows no reports of mass cheering in Jersey City." Reuters claimed that "Paterson officials promptly issued a statement denying the report." National Public Radio's crack investigators "could not turn up any news accounts of American Muslims cheering or celebrating in the wake of Sept. 11." A Slate headline insisted that Muslims celebrating 9-11 is "one of the oldest 9/11 urban legends." Buzzfeed quoted, with approval, CAIR's Ibrahim Hooper, "This has been one of these vile memes on the anti-Islam hate sites for some time, but there's actually no evidence to support it whatsoever." Buzzfeed also quoted the Anti-Defamation League, "It is unfortunate that Donald Trump is giving new life to long-debunked conspiracy theories about 9/11."
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at The Brookings Institution, blogging at Lawfare, is among the most self-righteous, highhanded, and inflammatory in his condemnation of Trump and also Ben Carson. These people, Wittes insisted, are spreading the equivalent of "blood libel … being used … to whip up the ignorant into murderous mobs … They are either lying or they are delusional. And assuming they are not suffering both from the same hallucination, they are lying in a fashion calculated to instill anger and hatred against a minority population at a time when nerves are raw, fears are high, and tempers are short. There are a lot of names for this. None of them is nice."
Wittes' charge of blood libel raises the stakes. Blood libel was used as an excuse to murder Jews in pogroms and it can be associated with tens of thousands of deaths. Wittes identifies blood libel as "medieval" and Christian – his meaning is plain. Christians are bad people who are bigoted against others; bigotry is a relic of the past.
In fact blood libel is neither exclusively Christian nor is it medieval. Blood libel goes back at least to Pagan, Classical Rome. In 1910, in Shiraz, Iran, a Jew was accused of murdering a Muslim girl. Muslims injured and killed Jews, and 6,000 Jews were dispossessed. Blood libel is so popular in the modern Muslim world that a 2001 TV series, "Horseman without a Horse," featured it. But to address actual facts, Wittes writes, would be beneath him. "I'm disinclined to rehash the tawdry history of this episode in any detail. To engage the substance of it feels a little to me like arguing with Holocaust deniers."
Even the Facebook page for Weird NJ insisted that no Muslims celebrated 9-11. Weird NJ is a publication usually dedicated to describing phenomena like the Ghost Boy haunting of Clinton Road. When people who promote belief in the Jersey Devil start insisting that an event never happened, you know something is up.
Prof. Irfan Khawaja of Felician College and Al Quds University acknowledges that some Muslims did celebrate 9-11. The group was much smaller than Trump mentioned, so the entire story can and must be labeled a "lie" rather than "an exaggeration." Khawaja writes, "He said that 'thousands and thousands' of people were cheering in Jersey City. That's a blatant lie."
The intense effort by empowered voices to erase an event matters. It is more than a footnote in the 2016 presidential race. Several factors are at play here. They include censorship of truth in order to meet the demands of political correctness, an utterly wrongheaded attempt to protect Muslims, an attempt that will only harm Muslims, and profound racism – the racism of an empowered elite who are convinced that average Americans are nothing but "ignorant murderous mobs."
In a May 5, 1920 photograph of Lenin delivering a speech, Trotsky is clearly visible. After Trotsky fell out of favor, he was airbrushed out of the photo. The Soviets were also good at smearing any speaker of inconvenient truths as too insane to be heard. We must reject the Soviet concept of truth. Truth is truth, even if it is politically incorrect. And truth is our friend. Truth is the friend of non-Muslims and Muslims alike.
I lived in and worked in Paterson, NJ, in the 1980s to 1990. I loved my Arab and Muslim friends then, and I love them now. In our many hours-long debates, many of my Arab and Muslim friends expressed enthusiastic and unshakeable support for terrorism. Not all did so; my Muslim friend Emmie's utter rejection of terrorism is described here. I wasn't surprised when 9-11 happened. As horrible as that day was, in one small sense, I experienced a pinprick of relief. Finally, I thought, we can start having an honest conversation about the support that even otherwise good but profoundly misguided people can voice for terrorism.
That conversation has yet fully to emerge. We are still too afraid of saying politically incorrect things. This censorship isn't just a bad thing for non-Muslims. It's a bad thing for Muslims as well. Those who witnessed the 9-11 celebrations, their friends and loved ones see much effort being exerted to smear and silence them, and to negate the historically important truth they speak. This silencing will only increase resentment against Muslims. An open and free public conversation will serve everyone's best interests.
People whom I trust told me that they witnessed the celebrations. None agreed to be named here. They know that speaking this truth in public sets them up for attack. One witness is my former student. He is an Italian-American, an A student who attended class regularly and handed in assignments on time. He is a responsible adult who worked during the day and took courses at night. Almost a decade ago, during a long conversation that touched on many topics, he told me of the celebration he witnessed. He named the location, the public library on Main Avenue.
Another witness was a prominent figure in Democratic politics, in which I used to participate. His account was similar to my student's account. The two men don't know each other. A third witness permits me to quote her here. "I stopped for gas in Belleville immediately after the second fall and there were two men in the station cheering at the TV coverage as if they were watching the Super Bowl and their team was winning." I have known this woman for years. I have to rely on her in financial and other matters. She has never lied to me.
There are tried-and-true methods to assess truth. These include Occam's Razor, multiple accounts, cui bono, and consistency with otherwise verified data. All of these can be applied in the accounts of Muslims celebrating 9-11.
Occam's Razor says that the simplest explanation is best. Numerous New York and New Jersey residents insist that they or those close to them saw New Jersey Muslims celebrate 9-11. New Jersey radio station 101.5 quotes some of these accounts here. A sampling:
Tom Penicaro: "I worked for PSEG in Clifton on the Paterson boarder and I witnessed it firsthand. They were celebrating in the streets cheering and stomping on the flag. I am a Marine and I remember very very clearly because I was so pissed I wanted to engage them with a bat I had in my van."
William Hugelmeyer: "I was working in the jail when the attacks occurred. Once it was clear it was a terrorist attack, we had inmates celebrating. This instantly caused a lockdown. As you could imagine, many other inmates and officers didn't share their jubilation."
John Pezzino: "They were in the streets banging on the cars trying to drive through the crowd in the street. The Muslims were shouting death to Americans and Allah is great other crap I didn't understand. We were amused until a car with 3 young women mistakenly turned on to main st. The muslims were banging on their windows and screaming, thats when we came out of our car and pushed the muslims off their car helped them back out and get back to the Parkway."
Walter Emiliantsev: "I lived in NJ at the time on Demott Ave., Clifton! When I tried to go to Paterson to my brother in laws shop, I usually took Main Ave. There were so many people dancing on Main, I couldn't get through! I KNOW what I saw!"
Occam's Razor suggests that when numerous people, using their first and last names in a public forum, and providing concrete details that can be checked, all provide similar accounts of public behavior, chances are they are telling the truth. It is possible that all of these people, as Kim LaCapria suggests, are suffering from false memory syndrome, or are all attempting to whip up murderous hatred against Muslims, as Benjamin Wittes accuses, but neither LaCapria nor Wittes provides any support for their smears.
Cui bono directs us to consider "who benefits" from a statement. New Jersey has one of the largest Muslim populations in the US, after Michigan. New Jersey's Muslim population constitutes the second highest, by percent, in the US, after Illinois and above Michigan. New Jersey Muslims wield political clout. Note Republican Governor Chris Christie's nomination of Sohail Mohammed for the New Jersey Superior Court in spite of intense pressure, and Christie's dismissal as "crap" any concerns that New Jerseyans might have about sharia law. Note also that a New Jersey judge ruled that a Muslim man had the basis to beat, torture, and rape his 17-year-old wife because he believed that Islam granted him this right. Muslim political clout may explain why so many empowered voices insist that the 9-11 celebrations never happened.
Too, no decent New Jerseyan wanted to see retaliatory attacks against Muslims in our state. Many speculate, and some report as fact, that police, journalists and local officials downplayed or denied Muslim celebrations to protect Muslims from retaliatory attacks.
In contrast, those who insist that they witnessed Muslim celebrations have nothing to gain by making these statements publicly, and everything to lose. First, many of those speaking out now have no public record of making these statements previous to this controversy. They saw what they saw and they kept it to themselves, or told only those closest to them, for the past fourteen years. It is only the attempt to expunge this historical fact from public memory, and to smear and disgrace anyone who speaks this truth, that caused witnesses to come forward. They are average New Jerseyans simply telling the truth in the face of a wave of censorship and demonization that could cost them their friends or their jobs.
Are accounts of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9-11 consistent with other verified data? Indeed they are.
Palestinians make up a large percentage of Paterson's Muslim population, so much so that the neighborhood where the 9-11 celebration is alleged to have taken place is sometimes nicknamed "Little Ramallah." Local businesses are often named for Palestinian landmarks, for example the Al-Quds restaurant, Al-Quds Halal meat and the Al-Quds bakery. Paterson has a large Hispanic population; there are businesses with the provocative and irredentist name of El Andalus Discount Store and Andalus Islamic Fashion. Paterson Palestinians are not shy about expressing their opposition to Israel, see here. Indeed, Paterson's City Hall famously flew the Palestinian flag. One Paterson resident, Moneer Simreen, is quoted referring to Palestine, not the US, as "our country." Americans, Tariq Elsamma said, "need to obey our needs because we are a large community." Paterson's mayor, Jose Torres, wore a kaffiyeh and supported making Ramallah Paterson's sister city.
Even those who deny that any American Muslims celebrated 9-11 acknowledge that Palestinians overseas did celebrate the attacks. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are familially related to Palestinians in Paterson.
Further, polling data indicate that there is not inconsiderable support for terror among some Muslims, with support varying by group. In a 2005 FAFO Foundation poll, a significant percentage of Palestinian respondents supported "Al Qaeda's actions like bombings in USA and Europe." A 2013 Pew Poll found that 40% of Palestinians support suicide bombing in defense of Islam. In the same poll, only one percent of Muslims in Azerbaijan voiced support for suicide bombing.
Finally, we know that six of the 9-11 hijackers lived in Paterson, NJ, and they used the computers of a nearby campus in planning their attacks.
There are all too many non-Muslims who voice support for terror as well. One notorious example: Ward Churchill, a white American university professor of European, Christian descent called the 9-11 victims "little Eichmanns." Other non-Muslims say that poverty or injustice justifies terrorism.
Good people of all beliefs need to say, without ambiguity or apology, that Western Civilization is worth maintaining, and that terrorism is both immoral and a tactical dead-end. If Muslims don't like an aspect of public life, they can change it through organizing and hard work. But we aren't having that conversation to the extent that we should. Instead too many of our cultural elites are apologetic about Western Civilization, and too eager to make excuses for terrorism.
No, Ms. LaCapria, there is no evidence that the people who witnessed New Jersey Muslims celebrating 9-11 suffer from false memory syndrome. No, Benjamin Wittes, those who witnessed the celebrations are not "lying delusional murderous mobs." Rather, the real bigots and racists are those who demonize the honest New Jerseyans who risk censure by simply stating what they saw. From universities, newspaper suites and think tanks, the erasers of history look down on average Americans and sneer. They believe the worst of the American people. They are convinced that if Americans know one small fact – that some New Jersey Muslims celebrated on 9-11 – we will rise up with our pitchforks and torches and erupt into slaughter. They are the delusional ones.
Americans are nice people. We are not especially bigoted. We know that 9-11 happened. Most Americans probably suspect that some minority of Muslims celebrated, openly or in secret. It's been fourteen years, and the pogrom that some have been perversely hoping for and trying to foment never happened.
What we need is frank speech. We need to talk to our Muslim fellow citizens about why some of them celebrated on 9-11. And we need to – through speech – convince those who celebrated 9-11 that they are mistaken. The day that we do so will be a good day. We delay that day by denying that these celebrations ever happened.
on: November 30, 2015, 03:32:12 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
He was mocking the reporter. Those offended by that are already not in the Trump camp. The reporter deserved something, not that.
Biden told the guy in the wheelchair to stand up so we can all see you. But he was gaffing by mistake. Trump was mocking for fun. Like a Geico commercial, it's what he does.
"IMO, this is likely just another hit piece on Trump."
It was a hit piece handed to them by Trump.
Michele Bachmann used to do stuff like this [the thousands cheered claim]. She was a former frontrunner nationally, considered a flake locally. Very serious woman, well educated and experienced, ran circles around Bernancke and Geithner while chairing a banking committee meeting. Then she would fly with some claim that hadn't been checked and didn't need to be said.
If you look back to all the close elections, Republicans haven't won a decisive one since Reagan was in the White House, we need focus, not distractions. If it's an important point, check it. If it isn't, don't say it. We do a better job checking each other's claims here on the forum than some of them do running for leader of the free world.
Makes you wonder, what will he say or do next? Are his aides afraid to say no to him? Does he delegate help with his speeches to no one? If he can't or won't delegate something this simple, fact checking prior when you know you will be fact checked after, how do you run a $4 trillion bureaucracy?
The answer of course is that he doesn't know what he will say when he walks out on the stage. Unscripted. Just what we want in a world leader...
on: November 30, 2015, 02:13:10 PM
Started by DougMacG - Last post by Crafty_Dog
"What is needed right now, unfortunately more than resume and experience, is the ability to communicate, to reach and persuade people who aren't getting a conservative message from anywhere else. Trump says he will be great. Rubio says the American people will be great."
Nor has Rubio ever made donations to Hillary, Pelosi, supported single payer, blah blah.
on: November 30, 2015, 12:44:43 PM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by ppulatie
I have watched the video as well. Trump has used various physical expressions and movements at different times in his many various rallies, so this is something not unknown. If he was mocking the reporter, then the mockery was far above and beyond the physical deformities of the reporter. (Essentially, his hand is held in a position similar to a person who has an injured arm in a sling.) Was Trump mocking him? Who knows, but we must also consider what else has occurred.
1. The reporter did cite sources and police reports in Oct 2001 that claimed cops investigated these reports. Now he denies that anything happened.
2. WAPO reporting also indicated that these types of Muslim celebrations occurred in NJ as well as in the Middle East. This reporting is now ignored.
3. Large numbers of people in NJ and elsewhere have indicated that they actually saw the celebrations occur. These reports are now ignored. (YouTube videos of these celebrations have been deleted for years and a result of PC complicity.
4. Now the claims are made that since Trump said thousands, and only hundreds may have done so, Trump is lying.
5. The NY Times sent this same reporter out to look at Sarah Palin during the 2008 election. He wrote articles, one of which he spoke to Palin's hairdresser and got some very negative quotes about Palin that were cited in his article. The hairdresser saw the article and then claimed that she never spoke with him about Palin? Would the reporter and the NY Times make this up? You decide..........
6. The reporter did a one day get together in about 1987 where he and many other reporters met with Trump. They spent the day on his plane, helicopter and also in his office.
Now, the reporter claims that Trump knew who he was and was making fun of his disability. Okay, that might be possible, but then here is the other side.
In a group of reporters on a one time activity that occurred almost 20 years ago, Trump is expected to remember everyone there and all the details about each person. Well, when I was in the military, I can't remember but few of the people that I closely worked with daily for years. Nor can I remember people in other activities that I was involved in that lasted months or years. Why should Trump be any different.
IMO, this is likely just another hit piece on Trump. The media and opposition saw a potential weakness and decided to take advantage of it. In all reality, it will mount to nothing either. Actually, once again, it may go to the benefit of Trump if the public perceives it as just another hit piece. (Did not seem to bother the crowd at the Florida rally.)
What is important is the crowds that Trump is attracting at every rally. Each time that a rally is announced, all tickets are taken within a couple of hours (tickets are free). Then, the venue gets changed to a larger setting so that the people wanting tickets can have a chance to see Trump. Even then, like in Florida, the overflow is tremendous. And in Florida, Trump goes outside and does a second speech to those who could not get into the hall.
Compare that to Cruz who held a rally in Iowa in a general store with only a couple of hundred in attendance, or with Jeb in Florida who could only get tens of people to appear. The contrast is certainly indicative of something sweeping the country.
on: November 30, 2015, 11:51:59 AM
Started by DougMacG - Last post by DougMacG
Yes, he is bridging the gap between insider and outsider. He risks being first choice of neither.
When the frontrunner insults the other candidates, he is also insulting their supporters. When Rubio talks about Trump's support, he first validates their frustrations with the status quo and with the Republicans in Washington.
Pat says (correctly) that Rubio has not done significant work outside of politics. For that, I would nominate Sen Ron Johnson, R-WI, former manufacturing CEO, tea party incumbent, currently trailing Russ Feingold by double digits. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/senate/wi/wisconsin_senate_johnson_vs_feingold-3740.html
What is needed right now, unfortunately more than resume and experience, is the ability to communicate, to reach and persuade people who aren't getting a conservative message from anywhere else. Trump says he will be great. Rubio says the American people will be great. Which message will resonate with the most people who turn out to vote? [I don't know.]
Highly qualified while taking second place isn't going to do it. Rubio hasn't run anything, nor has Cruz. Trump has no experience working in a bureaucratic, co-equal branches, hostile media environment. The top governors in this race were unable to communicate or set a vision for the country or for this race. Trump and Carson have never been on a ballot until now, much less won a race. Rubio has won every race he entered all the way up, including the one below where he got nearly 50% and a million vote margin against a popular incumbent governor and a Democratic member of congress in a most divided, swing state:
Marco Rubio Charlie Crist Kendrick Meek
Republican Independent Democratic
2,645,743 1,607,549 1,092,936
48.9% 29.7% 20.2%https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_election_in_Florida,_2010
on: November 30, 2015, 11:38:39 AM
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
The Islamic State will continue efforts to improve its capabilities in communication and offensive attacks in cyberspace.
The availability of cybercrime tools and services on underground criminal markets will allow the Islamic State to further bolster its existing abilities.
The geographic spread of the Islamic State's online presence and its ability to tap into underground markets mean that efforts to counter the group's online activities will occur in countries other than Iraq and Syria.
Regardless of offensive capabilities in cyberspace, the Islamic State's online activities will continue to focus on disseminating propaganda in efforts to draw recruits and funding.
On Nov. 13, armed militants killed 130 people in Paris. On Nov. 14, unarmed militants from the public relations branch of the Islamic State sat down at their computers, signed in to their social media accounts — accounts from which they could reach virtually anyone in the world — and claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Propaganda is immensely important to the Islamic State. Part of its mission is to convince the world it is as dangerous as it claims to be, so it is little surprise that the group's behavior on the Internet is every bit as theatrical as its behavior on the battlefield. Even some of the venues of the Paris attacks — a soccer stadium, a concert hall — are structures of performance meant to host large crowds. In that sense, the Islamic State achieved precisely what it intended to on Nov. 13: It commanded the attention of a global audience, which it can use to spread its message and recruit new members.
Islamic State's first claim of responsibility for the Paris attacks was disseminated through a popular instant messaging service, Telegram, which allows end-to-end encrypted communication. A month earlier, the Islamic State's media wing began encouraging its supporters to use the service. After the initial release of the message, the rest of the Islamic State's social media network operators and supporters amplified it further. The initial call to use Telegram drew focus to the Islamic State's technical capabilities in cyberspace, particularly when coupled with the group's repeated claims that it has offensive online capabilities.
Since the Islamic State's online presence began to grow rapidly in 2014, culprits claiming affiliation with the group have carried out numerous unsophisticated online attacks, such as hijacking social media accounts and defacing poorly secured websites. Online harassment of individuals, organizations and whole populations is a tactic frequently used to foster fear without any actual threat of violence. The Islamic State's online media machine has also made claims of hacking U.S. government networks, on some occasions by posting names and personal details claimed to belong to government and military personnel. In addition to carrying out cyberattacks, whether real or fabricated, the Islamic State has more recently attempted to educate its supporters in rudimentary operational security measures when communicating over the Internet.
The Islamic State has indeed given some attention to building up its technical online capabilities and will likely continue to do so. But these capabilities have largely focused on theatrics in online media in an attempt to maintain the group's image as an expanding threat despite losing the momentum it had in 2014, rather than presenting any significant threat to public safety. These capabilities carry even less significance on the battlefields in Iraq or Syria. Nevertheless, the Islamic State likely will continue to incorporate the use of information technology and attempt to expand its technical capabilities in cyberspace.
For more than a decade, transnational jihadists have turned to the Internet to spread claims of terrorist attacks. However, the Islamic State has built up a particularly robust and effective online media machine that has placed its propaganda, and a glimpse into its recruitment efforts, on some of the most popular public mediums in the West, including Twitter and Facebook.
The Islamic State has leveraged this social media presence to portray itself as possessing exaggerated offensive capabilities in cyberspace. In March, the "Islamic State Hacking Division" posted a list of 100 names and personal information that the hackers claimed belonged to U.S. military personnel. The hackers said they obtained the information by compromising government databases, but the list was more likely compiled through open source research. In January, someone claiming affiliation with the Islamic State hijacked the U.S. Central Command's Twitter account. However, social media users — particularly those sharing accounts — often take poor security measures in selecting account credentials; thus, hijacking or "hacking" accounts can often be accomplished with cheap tricks.
The Islamic State intentionally misrepresents its online capabilities in its online propaganda efforts. This feeds into the principal reason for the group's organizational focus on online activities: drawing recruits and funding. However, because the bulk of the Islamic State's social media presence is highly decentralized, with a significant portion spread outside of Iraq and Syria, extensive online communication is required in order to organize its propaganda efforts. The Islamic State's means of communication are diverse — a guard against the effects of any crackdown on social media accounts. As a result, the group has recently begun efforts to at least bolster the security awareness of its broader online audience, such as recommending tools like anonymous communication service "Tor" in hopes of concealing messages.
The Islamic State has made additional efforts to educate its supporters on proper operational security, even circulating a manual on securing communications around more obscure online forums. The manual contains numerous best practices and suggestions, many of which were plagiarized from another manual. Although unlikely to ultimately thwart Western intelligence agencies' targeted surveillance efforts, these practices could pose significant obstacles to law enforcement organizations. However, given the decentralized and dispersed nature of the Islamic State's online presence, it is unlikely that most online supporters will heed all the advice listed in the manual.
Islamic State Hacking
Despite names associated with the Islamic State that imply offensive online capabilities, such as the "Islamic State Hacking Division" or the "Cyber Caliphate," there is no indication that the Islamic State has any organized branch capable of carrying out cyberattacks that could inflict physical harm on individuals or cause significant financial or physical damage.
Thus far, possible Islamic State members and supporters have demonstrated little sophistication in their online offensive abilities. Website defacements are common; the wide array of websites that have been targeted over the past year, along with the use of well-known security exploits, suggests that these efforts have been simply seized opportunities rather than targeted attacks. In other words, these attacks could be carried out by a low-skilled hacker working with simple software that automatically scans a selection of targets for known vulnerabilities and relies on documented exploits to compromise vulnerable targets.
In some cases, online attacks carried out in the Islamic State's name were not in fact carried out by the group's supporters. In April, the French television network TV5Monde suffered several cyberattacks targeting its social media accounts, website and station. The culprits claimed to be associated with the Islamic State, but by June, French authorities believed the attackers were in fact Russian hackers posing as Islamic State militants. In a domain where attributing activity to particular actors can challenge even the most resourceful intelligence agencies, names are trivial.
The Islamic State probably is not capable of carrying out spectacular acts of cyberterrorism, such as targeting critical infrastructure. The group would welcome such capabilities, but so far its use of cyberspace principally has been psychological operations and communications. The low sophistication of its offensive online capabilities has been effective in this regard.
However, the group has clearly put emphasis on publicizing its activities in cyberspace and on recruiting somewhat skilled individuals. In October, Malaysian authorities arrested Ardit Ferizi, a hacker from Kosovo, who U.S. authorities accused of stealing personal information after compromising the network of a U.S. company. Ferizi then allegedly handed the information over to an Islamic State member, Junaid Hussain, who reportedly was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Aug. 25 in Raqqa, Syria. Ferizi had been a known hacker operating under the pseudonym of a group of Kosovar hacktivists. Hussain, likewise, was a known hacker and British national previously associated with a different hacktivist group.
There is nothing to suggest the prevalence of Islamic State supporters with backgrounds similar to Hussain's or Ferizi's, nor are there any indicators that Ferizi and Hussain had highly technical abilities. But their association with the Islamic State shows the group at least has the intent to recruit individuals capable of carrying out cyberattacks, and the group is likely to be able to do so again eventually.
The Islamic State's Next Steps
As it has been for other jihadist groups, the Internet has been a powerful tool for the Islamic State. Given the Islamic State's efforts to recruit hackers to carry out low-level cyberattacks, it seems likely the group will continue to pursue greater capabilities that will help it organize its online communications and its attempts to portray itself as a technically capable threat, though not to the point of committing catastrophic cyberattacks.
Capabilities to carry out cyberterrorism do not necessarily have to come from within the Islamic State. A thriving underground market exists where tools designed to commit cybercrimes for financial gain, such as stealing banking credentials or installing malware that holds critical information on a victim's device hostage for ransom, can be purchased or even rented. Offensive skills for hire and exploits in popular software not publically known (referred to as "zero day" exploits) are also available, and often the buyers and sellers do not have to know each other's identities.
Cybercrime can be a considerably profitable endeavor, potentially earning millions of dollars for the culprits. The existence of such markets means that jihadist groups like the Islamic State could gain offensive capabilities without actually recruiting a person with the necessary skills into the organization. By intersecting with existing global cybercrime networks, the Islamic State could bolster the potential funds earned through its efforts online while potentially increasing the effect of its online attacks and thus boosting its overall propaganda efforts.
Regardless of how far the Islamic State can continue to develop its online capabilities, no improvements in this area will shape its fighting abilities in and around its core territories in Iraq and Syria. Its efforts as an insurgent force largely are independent of its cyberspace activities, and this will likely be reflected in the geography of counter-Islamic State efforts. The large, decentralized pool of supporters being organized over online media and the ability to contract additional capabilities from cybercriminals means that efforts to counter the Islamic State's online activities likely will occur in areas outside of Iraq and Syria, as was the case with Ferizi.