The war being waged online is breathtaking. Not only are the likes of ISIS running wild in cyberspace, there are all other kinds of hijinks as well. The Saudi government is bogged down in a hashtag war with allies of ISIS recruiting suicide bombers. Meanwhile, Russian hackers are posing as a “cyber caliphate” to cover their online mayhem.
While the online world is on fire, the White House is acting like it has got everything under control. “We are in touch with these [social networking] companies on a regular basis,” National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey told the Washington Examiner, “and have a constant, constructive dialogue on the question of freedom of expression versus security and incitement.” The FBI, on the other hand, sounds a lot less confident. Just the other day, FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “[t]here’s a group of tweeters in Syria, and their message is two pronged: Come to the so-called caliphate and live the life of some sort of glory or something, and if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are. Kill somebody in uniform, kill anybody, if you can cut their head off, great. Videotape it. Do it, do it, do it….They’re pushing this through Twitter.”
What’s lost in all the hysteria over terrorists tweeting online is what is making all this terror talk so terrifying. ISIS has the capacity to link its social networks with human networks — real humans on the ground willing to turn into ideas into action. That is what makes the terrorist talkers so dangerous. Tweeting is just a symptom of the problem. The best way to take the terrorists offline is start taking down ISIS in the field.