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Sources and Methods LogoKristan J. Wheaton, an assistant professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst College, recently published a note regarding original research into potential Jihadist use of virtual worlds at Sources and Methods. The findings are far less hyperbolic than the usual coverage of this subject, and seem sound. From Wheaton’s post:

A group of five students in my winter Strategic Intelligence class were asked to take a look at “the nature, volume, and likely current use of YouTube, other hosted video sites and Second Life by jihadist networks and individuals, and what will the likely future use of these mediums be over the next 12-24 months?”

Interesting stuff here. From the key findings regarding Second Life:

  • “Jihadists are likely currently very minimally using Second Life.”
  • “…over the next 12-24 months jihadists will likely begin to explore the ability and utility of the virtual world’s applications for money laundering, communication, and recruitment through propaganda…Use will likely be limited to merely exploring due to currently existing alternatives…”
  • “The most effective countermeasures will likely rely on a close, working relationship with Linden [Lab] due to the systems in place to monitor financial transactions, avatar activity, and communication.”

The students’ original research and analysis is available via a course wiki.

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3 Responses to “Research on Jihadists in Virtual Worlds Finds Minimal Current Use, Exploration Likely Over Next Two Years”

  1. on 05 May 2008 at 7:34 pmKris Wheaton

    Interesting blog and thanks for posting about my students’ work.

    I don’t think that any of the students, by the way, expected to find what they found. If we had any biases going in, I think it was probably in the opposite direction, which, to my mind, makes the findings even more interesting.


  2. on 05 May 2008 at 8:13 pmPedro Ivo Rogedo

    Barlow was right when he wrote the Declaration of Independence of the Cyberspace.

    “You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.”

    These countermeasures will certainly be between surveillance and protection. And, for sure, it will serve not only to protect people from terrorists but to ensure that the government has control over every kind of human communication – even if it’s not related to any act of terrorism.

  3. [...] raised concerns about this during a hearing in Congress about virtual worlds. In a recent post on Virtually Blind research was discussed showing that Jihadist use of Virtual Worlds is currently minimal but that [...]

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