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Olivier Guitta of The Counterterrorism Blog provides a fascinating look at Al-Qaida’s web presence in his article “Europe facing radicalization over the Web.” Guitta covers a number issues including Al-Qaida’s use of established instant messaging services like Skype as well as software that they have developed in-house such as “Secrets of Mujahedin.” Guitta writes,

Also after years of research, al-Qaida has developed software called “Secrets of Mujahedin,” that allows secure exchange in Arabic on electronic networks. It has allegedly been in use for over a year on clandestine forums close to al-Qaida, especially for jihadist groups in Iraq and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. This has been a formidable weapon for al-Qaida and numerous intelligence services and private companies have been trying to break it [emphasis added].

Although details in the article are vague, the term “secure exchange” could include any number of things such as steganography, encrypted messaging, or anonymizing technologies. By calling this a weapon, Guitta does not overstate the issue. However, managing risk is not a solely technological problem. For this reason, neither an “arms control” nor “arms race” paradigm–that is, attempting to disarm or ‘outgun’ threats–provides a suitable answer to problem. In fact, cultural violence is itself the pressing vulnerability to be addressed rather than the ever-increasing number of technological threats. Long-term solutions must address this fact.

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