Virtual Scorched Earth: The Technical Mujahid
a "global intelligence network dedicated to confronting internet activities by Islamists and their supporters, enablers and apologists." Internet Haganah also is an activist organization which attempts to convince businesses not to provide web-based services to such groups, and collects intelligence to store and pass on to government organizations.It reports that
The lovely thing is that the jihadis think there is a technical solution to their security problems. As reported by the Jamestown foundation:The global jihad's multi-pronged strategy includes exploitation of Western media and the internet. That a magazine like the Technical Mujahid exists at all should be cause for concern; somebody's committed to fighting a war on all fronts, while somebody else wants a scheduled surrender.
According to the editor-in-chief of Technical Mujahid, Abu al-Mothanna al-Najdi, the objectives of the magazine are to eradicate the phobia and anxiety suffered by those who refrain from participating in jihad because they erroneously believe that intelligence services are monitoring their every move. Additionally, the publication aims to spread a sense of security, vigilance and self-confidence, in a scientific way, among members of jihadi forums by educating them in jihadi propaganda and enhancing their knowledge of field operations. To achieve these objectives, the magazine is organized into six sections of technical training that are aimed at helping the mujahideen carry out certain tasks.
The biggest threat to the security of the jihadi, online or off, is himself, and the behavioral vulnerabilities he brings to the fight. There is no technological solution to that problem, no hotfix, no patch, no Jihadi Service Pack 2 that will make it all better.
Be that as it may, counter-ops are having an effect:
Fear and Loathing on the Jihadi ForumAt the beginning, many official agencies felt the private actions of Internet Haganah were counterproductive and just created a nuisance by interfering. But the government doesn't have all the expertise. A new policy of a Virtual Scorched Earth is emerging:
The brother enters the "preparing for jihad" section of the forum, and asks, in typically verbose fashion "where's the Jihad?" and "how come there are only 20 members of this group?" and "don't you know there's a war on?".
[screenshots in Arabic are shown]
...which attempts to answer the brother's questions by explaining that
* none of them actually have any military experience
* they can't rely on information from the Western sites
* they are under surveillance and they know it
* and because none of them have the relevant experience, they can't trust the information they find on other forums, because they know the intelligence services are busy planting false information.
[T]he fact of the matter is that the Secretary of Defense signed off on something called The Information Operations Roadmap in October of 2003. Interested individuals will find a redacted version of the document online via George Washington University.And Cyberspace is now an official warfighting domain:
We've long advocated precisely this kind of "virtual scorched-earth policy", wherein offensive operations would be implemented by governments while civilians engage in lawful activities such as filing complaints with service providers and serving as much needed eyes and ears monitoring jihadist activities online.
U.S. Military Beefs Up Internet Arsenal
March 28, 2007 - Cyberattacks can take different forms, including eliminating terrorists' Web sites and creating doubts among insurgents about their networks' security, said John Arquilla, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School who favors an offensive approach he calls a "virtual scorched-earth policy."
The U.S. military is quietly expanding capabilities to attack terrorists' computer networks, including Web sites that glorify insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, military officials and experts say.
The move comes as al-Qaeda and other groups fighting in Iraq and elsewhere have expanded their activities on the Internet and increased the sophistication and volume of their videos and messages. Much of the material is designed to raise money and recruit fighters for Iraq.
"You should not let them operate uncontested" on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command located at the National Security Agency. The command was established to develop ways to attack computer networks.
Davis and other officials declined to say whether the military has actually attacked any networks, which would require presidential authorization. The techniques are highly classified.
"Our opponents do a heck of a lot more than just watch us in cyberspace," Davis said. "They are acting in cyberspace. We need to develop options so that we can ... dominate cyberspace."
Cyberattacks can take different forms, including eliminating terrorists' Web sites and creating doubts among insurgents about their networks' security Relevant Products/Services, said Arquilla, who favors an offensive approach he calls a "virtual scorched-earth policy."
[S]ci-fi author William Gibson published a novel entitled Neuromancer, a work that gave the world a strange new term—“cyberspace.” The book didn’t call cyberspace “a place” but a “consensual hallucination” of billions of humans. Few military men gave it much thought.Continue reading at Air Force Magazine: War in the Third Domain.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, though, it’s deja vu all over again. The Air Force has come to recognize cyberspace, like “regular” space, as an arena of human activity—including armed activity. It is, to reprise Hartinger, a theater of operations.
The Air Force took a first big organizational step along those lines last fall. Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, announced a plan to form a new Cyber Command to be established by Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., head of 8th Air Force. Its purpose: Organize, train, and equip forces for cyber-war.
Though Cyber Command has not yet reached full major command status, it already is providing combat capabilities in cyberspace to the unified US Strategic Command and combatant commanders, according to Air Force officials.
Cyber Command has in place systems and capabilities for integrating cyber operations into other Air Force global strike options. All that is lacking, according to one top official, are the “organizational and operational constructs” to integrate cyber ops with those of air and space operations.
This is very serious stuff:
Al Qaeda has focused heavily on using the Internet for recruiting, fund-raising, and propaganda-spreading. However, it also has trained its operatives “in computer network attack techniques,” Arquilla said.Increasingly, non-governmental action by the West against the terrorists will become more important and more common, because non-government action works both ways.
As for nations, China and Russia generally are viewed as the greatest potential threats.
“China is one of the more active countries in thinking through the whole business of cyberspace-based operations,” said Arquilla. Beijing’s cyberspace thrust comports with the Chinese military’s well-documented practice of using asymmetric tactics against its superpower military rival.
Kass said Chinese officials have published “strategic documents” outlining “unrestricted warfare” against the American information constellation. They “understand how reliant the United States is on the ability to conduct global command and control,” she added.
Moreover, said Arquilla, “the Russians are quite good” at cyber work. Indeed, it is only too apparent that Moscow takes cyberspace operations very seriously. At least one Russian official has said that a cyber-attack on Russia’s critical transportation or power infrastructure would warrant a nuclear response.
“This is probably the only warfighting domain in which we have peer competitors,” said Keys of ACC. “We have to stay ahead of them.”
The Air Force doesn’t have much choice in the matter, though. Cyberspace, nebulous as it is, has moved front and center in the military’s order of battle. “Without cyber dominance,” said Wynne, “operations in all of the other domains are in fact placed at risk.”
As Belmont Club has mentioned, perhaps the only thing scarier and more world-changing than an islamic atomic bomb going off in a Western capital, would be an atomic bomb going off in an islamic capital...without any government having a clue as to whom was responsible.
The same perhaps could be said for major crippling information network attacks. With wacky billionaires building their own spaceports and strange laser "illuminations" of U.S. satellites by the Chinese, physically attacking satellites by non-government actors is a real possibility.
China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources.
It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful.