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Anti-terror chiefs want help from social media


DEFIANT: A man holds a banner reading ‘Finsbury Park – We Stand Together’
as he stands outside Finsbury Park Mosque following a van attack on pedestrians nearby on June 19
DEFIANT: A man holds a banner reading ‘Finsbury Park – We Stand Together’ as he stands outside Finsbury Park Mosque following a van attack on pedestrians nearby on June 19

AS JIHADIST attacks are increasingly being carried out by home-grown “lone wolves,” top counter-terror chiefs of four Western powers said last Thursday (8) they need more support from social media companies to detect potential threats.

While traditional intelligence methods are foiling large-scale plots coordinated from abroad, the officials from the  US,  Britain, Germany and Canada said that isn’t enough to uncover attacks by self-radicalised individuals like those this year in Britain that have killed dozens.

Paddy McGuinness, the British deputy national security adviser for intelligence, said many countries are still too focused on foreign-derived attacks planned or directed by Daesh (Islamic State) or Al-Qaeda.

After the four attacks in Britain this year, he said at a Washington intelligence forum: “We are dealing with conspiracies that really do not involve an overseas element.”

“We’re dealing with a problem in our communities, with people who do not travel, and become radicalised and move to violence… These were British plots by British people.” Christian Rousseau, head of Cana- da’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, calls it a shift to “Terrorism 3.0” as Daesh reels from battlefield defeats in Iraq and Syria.

In  Germany too,  attacks trend toward self-radicalised “inspired lone wolves,” according to Friedrich Grommes, head of the international terrorism division of the German Federal Intelligence Service.

But in Germany’s case these have been from recent immigrants, not second-generation immigrants like in Canada, Britain and the US. The officials said that shift requires new approaches to detecting threats, with a focus on sources like social media.

McGuinness said he wants to see more pro-active support from Face- book, Google and other online giants with the ability to conduct large- scale automated scanning of users for possible threats.

He also called on America to pass laws to lift a ban on US internet companies responding to terror-related search warrants from foreign law authorities. More than 95 per cent of crime and terror cases involve people using an American technology ap- plication,  he said.

Potential attackers and their Daesh coaches usually move to the encrypt- ed “dark web” to talk, Rousseau said. Nick Rasmussen, director of the US National Counterterrorism Cent- er, said American authorities are having more success by pumping large amounts of evidence of potential jihadist activity to the social media companies themselves, to press them to act unilaterally.

“We are going to make sure we burden them with knowledge about how their tools, technologies, plat- forms are being used,” he said. (AFP)