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US now targeting al Qaeda's cyber propaganda

The US has initiated a cyber warfare to checkmate al Qaeda's anti-American propaganda, with its experts targeting the terror network's ads on Yemeni websites to replace them with alternate versions of events.

world Updated: May 24, 2012 19:20 IST

The US has initiated a cyber warfare to checkmate al Qaeda's anti-American propaganda, with its experts targeting the terror network's ads on Yemeni websites to replace them with alternate versions of events.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the cyber experts in the State Department were working to pre-empt and counter extremist propaganda.

"A couple of weeks ago, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen began an advertising campaign on key tribal web sites bragging about killing Americans and trying to recruit new supporters.

"Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people," Clinton said at the Special Operations Command dinner in Tampa Florida yesterday.

She said the efforts are starting to have an impact, and have prompted extremists to ask supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet," she said.

Clinton said she has created a full Counterterrorism Bureau at the State Department that is spearheading a diplomatic campaign around the world to increase local capacity of governments and to deny terrorists the space and financing they need to plan and carry out attacks.

She said as the threat from al-Qaeda becomes more diffused and distributed, "shifting from the core to the affiliates", it was important to forge close ties with the governments and communities on the front lines and to help build their counterterrorism capacity.

"After all, they often are better positioned than we are to provide services to their people, disrupt plots, and prosecute extremists, and they certainly often bear the brunt of terrorist attacks. So we need to build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries," Clinton said.

Clinton pointed out that each year the State Department trains nearly 7,000 police, prosecutors, and counterterrorism officials from more than 60 countries, including frontline states like Yemen and Pakistan.

"We're expanding our work with civil society organisations in specific terrorist hotspots – particular villages, prisons, and schools – to try to disrupt the process of radicalisation by creating jobs, promoting religious tolerance, amplifying the voices of the victims of terrorism," she said.