At least Twitter may be useful to someone

“I’m shocked! Terrorists are using alltools used also by ordinary people!!!!”

This was a sarcastic response on Twitter to an article in Wiredmagazine posted last week about a U.S. Army report on the use– both actual and potential – of mobile technologies by terrorists.

Be as sarcastic as you want, but it would seem that evaluatingcapabilities of potential enemies is actually part of the jobdescription of military intelligence operators. And in evaluating yourenemy’s capabilities, you risk stating the obvious, especially incorrespondence that doesn’t get locked in a super duper secure cabinetand therefore winds up in the hands of the Federation of AmericanScientists.

There’s no doubt that communications networking tools of any type – thepublic Internet and GPS systems could be an aid to terrorists. In fact,some older inventions – such as firearms, cube vans, fertilizer, TNTand box cutters – can also be useful to terrorists.

The paper referred to in the Wired article – titled Sample Overview: alQaida-Like Mobile Discussions & Potential Creative Uses – wasoriginally published by earlier this month in the (U.S.) 304th MilitaryIntelligence Battalion Periodic Newsletter. It was marked “for officialuse only”, though the FAS has sincepublished it on its Web site.

The paper was not marked Confidential, Secret or Top Secret and usesopen sources, which means it’s information available on the Internet,and not gleaned from terrorists squealing on their co-conspirators orelectronic eavesdropping.

Some of the open sources are terrorist Web sites, some are sympatheticto terrorists and others may actually be honey pots, designed bygovernment agencies to track IP addresses of visitors.

Let’s see what the paper says.

“There are numerous different tactics, tools, and software servicesthat can be used by terrorists to conduct activities that go wellbeyond the original intent of the mobile phone voice communications,”it states.

The paper also comments on possible use of voice spoofing.

“The Taliban and other like groups suspecting their VOIP communicationsare being monitored could theoretically combine voice changing softwarewith (or without) encryption and caller ID spoofing in order to makebasic detection more difficult. This tactic may or may not be effectiveto elude international Intelligence agencies. However, it might beeffective for calling in demands interviews, and/or attack claims tomedia outlets.”

As for Twitter, the article cites the ability of people to send messages very quickly to others.

One of the letters to the Wired article pretty much sums it up:

“If terrorists have actually found something Twitter is good for, they’re doing way better than the rest of us.”

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