Tuesday, November 17, 2009

US military now use "potential terrorist tool" to communicate in the Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / November 17, 2009) – After a US Army report warned that Twitter could be a potential tool for terrorists, now American forces helping defeat terrorism in the Philippines are using the free social networking and micro-blogging service that enable them to send and read messages known as tweets.

The US Army has posted a report in October last year citing certain mobile and web technologies that could be used to enable terrorism.

One chapter, entitled "Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter," observed that the Los Angeles earthquakes last year were reported by Twitter users long before established news outlets had time to cover it, according to BBC.

It said perceiving Twitter's ability to publish anything, instantly, as threatening, US intelligence expressed concern that terrorists could use Twitter to plan and organize quicker attacks. It said activists used Twitter to organize protests at the Republican National Convention in September last year.

"Twitter is already used by some members to post and support extremist ideologies and perspectives," the US Army report ominously stated. Thus, "[terrorists] could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operational tool."

Now, US troops deployed in the restive region of the southern Philippines to assist local military in fighting terrorism, announced Tuesday that they are using 140-character Twitter feed to communicate with internal and external audiences.

“JSOTF-P is pleased to announce the launch of our Twitter feed. With social media as the primary tool of communication these days, we felt Twitter would provide an ideal method for us to communicate with our internal and external audiences.”

“Through this social medium, we now have a rapid method to post updates, links, and other information of interest. Additionally, we can use this tool to promote other organizations we partner with and can spread the word about the great work they are doing,” said Lieutenant Junior Grade Theresa Donnelly, the deputy public affairs office of the Joint Special Operations Task Force–Philippines, and provided the URL to their Twitter feed as http://twitter.com/JSOTFP.

Since its creation in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Twitter has gained notability and popularity worldwide. Twitter is ranked as one of the 50 most popular websites worldwide. Although estimates of the number of daily users vary because the company does not release the number of active accounts, a February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranked Twitter as the third most used social network based on their count of 6 million unique monthly visitors and 55 million monthly visits.

In March this year, a Nielsen.com blog ranked Twitter as the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category for February 2009.

Other technologies mentioned in the US Army terrorism report include Voice Over Internet Protocol which can make it difficult to trace malicious calls, Facebook, MySpace, certain gaming networks, and satellite navigation and mapping tools.

In particular, mobile navigation available on certain Nokia handsets was pegged as a potential outlet for "Specialist use in Marksmanship, Border Crossings and in Concealment of Supplies," the US Army report said.

"Terrorists could theoretically use Twitter social networking in the US as an operational tool." The report also claims that satellite navigation and mapping tools have been discussed in al-Qaeda forums.

US troops have been in the southern Filipino region of Mindanao since 2001 and in 2006 deployed in the Sulu Archipelago where local soldiers are battling Moro rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya terror network.

In September this year, two US Special Forces members were killed in a roadside bombing in Sulu in the worst attack in seven years in the troubled South. In 2002, a US soldier was also killed and another wounded in a bomb attack at a roadside restaurant near their camp.

The Pentagon said as many as 600 soldiers are deployed in the southern Philippines under the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: