The Web has proved to be a great gathering place for the haters of the world to find each other and bond. Now Al Qaida is using it to grow their organization that would have died or withered without its ability to reach out globally to easily influenced people.
Al Qaida has managed to stay alive for two reasons: (1) the remoteness of the Afghanistan/Pakistan badlands and access to other failed States like Somalia, (2) because of its sophisticated use of 21st Century technology: The Internet.
Creative websites have been established by Al Qaida webmasters to print articles and show videos that paint a one-sided story of their 14th century beliefs – that one religion (theirs) control the world and that the Westerns are killing Muslims because of their religion. (The one-religion-controlling-the-world idea is arrogant and moronic in a multi-religion world).
Like most hate groups, Al Qaida fails to tell the other side. It occurred to me that Americans should tell that story. How many Muslims know that the U.S. was defending Muslims who were being killed by the Christian Serbs in Bosnia, etc. in the 90’s?
I was reminded of that while watching “Behind Enemy Lines” the movie with Owen Wilson. It was based on a true story of an American pilot shot down over Bosnia by Serbs in the 90’s, while on a flight to monitor Serb activity. ( He was successfully rescued).
Unfortunately, incidents like the Blackwater shootings and the Abu Gharib torture photos give Al Quaida fuel to fan the flames of hate. They are useful ways to generate anger in jobless young men like the underwear bomber. With video and articles, they are talking to thousands of young men like him, using those episodes to convince these easily influence young men (and potentially women) that Westerners hate their religion, so they need to kill themselves attacking us.
So it occurred to me after watching “Behind Enemy Lines” that we should get our own websites showing the good things we are doing to support the ordinary Muslims from brutes like the Taliban. Recent polls show that the Taliban has lost favor with the population because of the Taliban’s cruelty and indiscriminate killing of civilians. We need to build on that with our own creative use of Web 2.0.
We could start by getting them to watch “Behind Enemy Lines” to show that Al Qaida’s extremist leaders are telling lies. (The sequence with the SAM missiles chasing our fighter is amazing).
The world has many religions and no one needs to put themselves above everyone else. Extremists do just that.
Pass the word.