CIA spy chief says social media amplifies terror threat

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By Larry Banks

Social media websites and related technologies are making it hard to combat militants who are using such modern techniques to share information and conduct their operations, according to the head of the CIA who spoke on Friday.

CIA Director John Brennan highlights issues of dealing with terror threats

CIA Director John Brennan, stated in a speech in New York that such communications heighten the challenge of dealing with threats and attacks across the world from groups like the Islamic State (ISIL).

“New technologies can help groups like ISIL coordinate operations, attract new recruits, disseminate propaganda, and inspire sympathisers across the globe to act in their name,” Brennan said.

“The overall threat of terrorism is greatly amplified by today’s interconnected world, where an incident in one corner of the globe can instantly spark a reaction thousands of miles away; and where a lone extremist can go online and learn how to carry out an attack without ever leaving home,” Brennan said.

He spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations, citing recent attacks including shootings in France at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, at a school in Pakistan, and at a cafe in Copenhagen.

CIA Director John Brennan
CIA Director, John Brennan

“These attacks underscore a disturbing trend that we have been monitoring for some time: The emergence of a terrorist threat that is increasingly decentralized, difficult to track, and difficult to thwart,” he said.

Brennan said that US agencies have already boosted their efforts against cyber-threats, but that those committed to terrorism have improved their use of technology.

Islamic State militants have used social media to grow into a global movement that attracts recruits in places like Syria and Iraq.

“This phenomenon now has generated a lot of appeal”, Brennan said. “We see these different franchises … that are trying to get on the bandwagon of this phenomenon and so this is a worrisome sort of global movement”, requiring a broad response.

Brennan said that various strategies, including monitoring social media, were necessary to help identify threats.

“We need to have a better sense of what’s happening in the streets. And that’s why looking at social media and other things you can maybe have a better sense of the barometric conditions in a country that are going to be more conducive to the forming of a storm.”

SOURCE: Reuters

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos

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