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Someone Tell Obama’s Counterterrorism Crew About the Internet

• Spencer Ackerman via
The Obama White House’s new strategy to cripple al-Qaida vows to fight the terrorist network everywhere it operates. As long as it’s IRL.

To read the strategy unveiled Wednesday by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (.pdf) is to view a pledge to send armed drones and special operations forces from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia to the Sahel.

It’s obsessed with physical safe havens for terrorists in places from “northern Mali” to Mauritania. But it has practically nothing to say about one of the most important places al-Qaida inspires new adherents and spreads its propaganda: the internet.

This is the most strenuous treatment of online jihad in the entire 19-page document: “Mass media and the internet in particular have emerged as enablers for terrorist planning, facilitation, and communication, and we will continue to counter terrorists’ ability to exploit them.” Sometimes the United States will spread its “positive vision of engagement with Muslim communities” through “person-to-person engagement,” and other times “through the power of social media,” it promises.