Washington, Dec 10 (ANI): According to a new report from the Department of Homeland Security, terrorists may be using Facebook to share operational information and to target.
According to the November report, terrorists and jihadists use Facebook as:
a way to share operational and tactical information, including bomb recipes and weapons maintenance; a gateway to extremist forums; a media outlet for propaganda; a source of remote reconnaissance for targeting purposes.
"Every person who connects to the Internet with a computer needs to take this issue seriously," Fox News quoted Steve Graham, senior director for EC Council, a cybersecurity certification membership organization, as saying.
"Reports like this show we are figuratively sitting next to terrorists. So are our friends, our kids and anyone else who types www."
DHS found that among the materials available to Facebook's more than 500 million members are:
Informational videos titled "tactical shooting," "getting to know your AK-47" and "how to field strip an AK-47." Those videos can be found on the page of a radical public Facebook group that is dedicated to jihad and has more than 2,000 members.
A group discussion page featuring Arabic-language IED recipes for explosive ammonia and poisonous smoke bombs, and instructions on how to prepare nitric acid, which is used to make explosive mixtures.
The same recipes were also posted on a radical forum, suggesting "some cross-over between radical content disseminated on Facebook and on Islamist extremist forums," according to the report.
"In this way, Facebook acts as a gateway or launching pad for further radicalization and for easy access to sites where explosives recipes and IED information are regularly posted," the report says.
The report cites discussion threads collected from well-established radical forums that indicate jihadists are specifically targeting the site:
This [Facebook] is a great idea, and better than the forums. Instead of waiting for people to [come to you so you can] inform them, you go to them and teach them!
God willing, the mujahedeen, their supporters, and proud jihadi journalists will [use the site, too]. [First,] it has become clear that the market of social networking websites is developing in an astonishing manner and that it fulfills important needs for Internet users, particularly younger ones. [Second,] Facebook has become very successful in this field; therefore, it is our duty to use it, as adherents of jihad and [members] of the blessed jihadi media.
[I] mean, if you have a group of 5,000 people, with the press of a button you [can] send them a standardized message. [That] means if you send one message with a link to [forum names], a clear [path] to jihadi media is open.
I entreat you, by God, to begin registering for Facebook as soon as you [finish] reading this post. Familiarize yourselves with it. This post is a seed and a beginning, to be followed by serious efforts to optimize our Facebook usage. Let's start distributing Islamic jihadi publications, posts, articles, and pictures. Let's anticipate a reward from the Lord of the Heavens, dedicate our purpose to God, and help our colleagues.
"These posts call for the organized, strategic exploitation of Facebook, recognizing its value as a platform for reaching a wider, younger audience," the report states.
"The youth who come to Facebook looking for jihadist information are the Generation X and Y youth who also don't worry too much about the security of their profiles and what they post, providing easy prey for intelligence agencies worldwide to access, infiltrate and fully penetrate those wishing to learn," said Jeff Bardin, chief security strategist at security firm XA Systems.
DHS spokesman Bobby Whithorne provided FoxNews.com with this statement:
"The Office for Bombing Prevention (OBP) facilitates a constant feedback loop with our law enforcement partners on TRIPwire, and as a result of ongoing discussions on the topic, OBP developed a case study on the use of social networking sites to better inform our partners about techniques, tactics and procedures used by terrorists.
"It is well known that terrorists recruit and share instructions to develop improvised explosive devices online, and we will continue to provide situational awareness and share information with our law enforcement partners on a range of topics in our shared efforts to deter and disrupt terrorism." (ANI)