U.S. Military Goes Online to Rebut Extremists' Messages

(New York Times) Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt - At MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Ardashir Safavi - born in Iran and educated in the U.S. - was patrolling two dozen Persian-language web sites, hunting militant adversaries in cyberspace. His mission was to scan news reports, blogs, social media and online essays to identify those he viewed as "containing lies, misinformation or just misperceptions" about American military operations and Pentagon policy across the Middle East. Safavi is part of the Digital Engagement Team, established in 2008 by the military's Central Command to "counter extremist ideology, promote cultural awareness and explain U.S. interests." The team includes 20 native speakers of Arabic, Dari, Persian, Pashto, Urdu and Russian, a shared language in the Muslim countries of the former Soviet states of Central Asia. To counter the adversary's use of the Internet, American cyberwarriors have hacked into extremist chat rooms to sow confusion, or to inject poisonous code to take down militant web sites. Sometimes, they choose not to act, but silently track the online movements of jihadists to learn their plans.

2011-11-18 00:00:00

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