Friday, July 20, 2012

Newest U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy: Trolling

Danger Room |, Newest U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy: Trolling  "The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department and Viral Peace’s creator, tells Danger Room he wants to use “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.”"

Ramadan 2012 apps, Muslim Pro App for iPhone Updates, Wants to Be Your Ramadhan Helper "Muslim Pro is one of the many Muslim-themed apps we’ve seen recently. There are also other apps and services focusing on the Muslim need from all over the world, such as India’s Islamic phones, Indonesia’s Urbanesia Ramadhan app, and Canada’s iPray. Seeing the healthy growth Muslim Pro receives, we can definitely expect more developers jumping into the same market in near future."

Malaysia and 'religious authority', Just who is this 'prominent' Saudi Islamic scholar Umno is promoting? "The Internet's wide reach is such that a name search of any prominent person would return a continuous stream of search engine results. Alas, that is not the case with one Sheikh Sulaiman Saloomi, being heralded by the pro-UMNO media as a prominent Saudi Arabian ulama from the holy city of Makkah." Op-ed

Youth and Citizenship in the Digital Era: Critique of an Emerging Phenomenon, Youth and Citizenship in the Digital Era: Critique of an Emerging Phenomenon "In a clip that is quite telling of how far relations between digital-savvy youth and power structures have come; the botched, now incarcerated, heir to Egypt’s throne, Gamal Mubarak, was asked a question on his view regarding the youth of Facebook. The young Mubarak dismissed the question mockingly by asking another reporter to answer it causing the audience to burst out in a fit of laughter. That was prior to the 25 January 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Today, as the leaked photograph of Egypt’s state security (right) illustrates, power structures no longer have as much time to laugh about as they dedicate resources to monitoring the Facebook profiles of young activists and their social media activities."

Report of a conference held earlier this year.

Syria: Videos Document a Sharply Escalating Conflict

Syria: Videos Document a Sharply Escalating Conflict · Global Voices collection of feeds/materials

Egypt: Egyptians Give Advice to Syrians

Egypt: Egyptians Give Advice to Syrians · Global Voices: "Egyptians are dishing out advice to Syrians - on Twitter. Under a dedicated hash tag, the advice ranges from “do not take photographs with tanks” to “take advice from someone else.”"

British library unveils online collaboration with Qatar, British library unveils online collaboration with Qatar "More than half a million pages of historic documents detailing Arabic history and culture are to be made available online for the first time, as part of the British Library’s plans to make its content more accessible."

Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage

EA WorldView - Home - Syria (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 217 Die Amid Question, "Where's Bashar?":

Syria-related media feed

Ramadan 2012 apps

Ramadan 2012 prompts perfect app choice » Phone Reviews "The Holy month of Ramadan is an extremely important time for Muslims all over the world and although dates can vary by a day depending on where you are in the world it has now begun and will end around August 18. With that in mind we thought it would be useful to round up some smartphone apps for Android and iOS devices to help users at this time of fasting, self-examination and extra prayers."

Other products are available...

TCA Abu Dhabi Puts Ramadan Lifestyle Tips Online In Eight Languages

TCA Abu Dhabi Puts Ramadan Lifestyle Tips Online In Eight Languages - Abu Dhabi City Guide: "Structured in an easy-to-browse section under visit, Abu Dhabi’s official destination website, the e-guide gives visitors useful information and tips on the Ramadan experience in eight languages: English, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.

Yahoo! Malaysia launches Ramadan Mubarak

Yahoo! Malaysia launches Ramadan Mubarak - Latest - New Straits Times "Today, Yahoo! Malaysia launched Ramadan Mubarak, a one-stop custom branded experience designed to deliver all relevant information Malaysian Muslims will need during the holy month.

"Its sales director, Jon-Tjin Kee said the website would provide spiritual and social messages.
"Kee said 70 per cent of Malaysia's Internet population used Yahoo! Malaysia every month which equalled to about 8.2 million users."

YouTube Ramadan-only channel

Al Bawaba, YouTube if you want to: Ramadan-only channel goes online, 20 Jul 2012: " will feature hundreds of episodes from Ramadan television shows the day they are aired on TV for viewers to watch, comment on, favorite and share. For easy access, all shows will be categorized so that users will be able to browse shows by genre, and title. It is the first time YouTube had rolled a channel specifically for the Islamic holy month."

Muslims get ready for Ramadan fast in summer heat

The Associated Press: Muslims get ready for Ramadan fast in summer heat "Muslims from Morocco to Afghanistan are steeling themselves for the toughest Ramadan in more than three decades. No food or drink, not even a sip of water, for 14 hours a day during the hottest time of the year."

Indonesia in pre-Ramadan web porn blitz

The Register, Indonesia in pre-Ramadan web porn blitz, 20 Jul 2012, 20 Jul 2012: "Indonesia’s government has decided to come down hard on internet porn, blocking access to at least one million smutty sites ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bomb plot couple guilty

Yorkshire Post, Muslim couple guilty of anti-Jewish bomb plot, 19 Jul 2012 "Shasta Khan, 38, and her husband, Mohammed Sajid Khan, 33, bought substances and equipment from supermarkets to assemble an improvised explosive device. "Police found a cache of terror-related material after being called to a domestic dispute at the couple’s home in Oldham, last July. "Beheading videos, propaganda glorifying Osama bin Laden and bomb-making guides were seized along with peroxide and bleach, used by Shasta Khan in her hairdressing work, which together with electrical equipment were being readied to make a bomb."

Syria Update, Free Syrian Army claims responsibility for Damascus attack: video Telegraph, Syria: Bashar al-Assad 'flees to Latakia'

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Syria crisis

Syria crisis: Four members of Assad inner circle killed in Damascus - live updates | World news | I have been listening to Lina Sinjab (BBC) reporting from Damascus this afternoon - see her Twitter feed BBCLinaSinjab. Also check out BBC coverage here, which includes rolling live coverage. Also checking out Syria Live Blog - Al Jazeera Blogs (heavy traffic) and other sources.

Hizbullah Infographic

MEMRI, Hizbullah Website Features Infographic On Closing The Strait Of Hormuz, Illustrates Iranian Attack On U.S. Aircraft Carrier "The official Hizbullah website, along with the Iranian weekly Panjereh (, published an infographic titled "Hormoz [sic] Straits– A Choke Point In the Hand of the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps].""

BBC bids farewell to its famous London Bush House, BBC bids farewell to its famous London Bush House great building - end of an era

‘THE 99’, ‘THE 99’ to premiere exclusively on MBC3 and Yahoo! Maktoob in Ramadan hope they make it onto UK TV

Monday, July 16, 2012

This Week in Internet Censorship

Electronic Frontier Foundation, This Week in Internet Censorship: Netizens Sentenced in Oman, Malaysia, and Bahrain; Maldivian Blogger Attacked; New Human Rights Watch Report on Iraqi Cybercrime Bill |

Iran’s network in a bottle, Iran’s network in a bottle, 15 Jul 2012 "In May, just a few weeks before the third anniversary of the Web-savvy Iranian protests of 2009, Internet users in Iran received some strange news."

Al-Qaida: Now Vying For Hearts, Minds And Land

Al-Qaida: Now Vying For Hearts, Minds And Land : NPR "Al-Qaida has been subtly testing a new strategy. In the past couple of years, the group's affiliates have been trying their hand at governing — actually taking over territory and then trying to win over citizens who live there. It happened with various degrees of success in Somalia and Yemen, and recently in the northern deserts of Mali."

Saudi prince vows to stop TV film on Muslim Caliph

Saudi prince vows to stop TV film on Muslim Caliph - Emirates 24/7 "Thousands of scholars, dignitaries and other people have already used social networks and newspapers to attack the episode "Omar Al Farooq", better known as Umar ibn Al-Khattāb, the most powerful of the four Rashidun Caliphs and one of the most influential Muslim rulers in history."

Consumer Database Marketing

Acxiom, the Quiet Giant of Consumer Database Marketing -  This article cropped up in the Observer yesterday. The data mining issue is something I'm interested in, in relation to my own current research.

Briton who advised US in Iraq tells how tactics changed after bloody insurgency

Briton who advised US in Iraq tells how tactics changed after bloody insurgency | World news | 

This article is part of an interesting series currently running in the Guardian.

Saudi to punish insulting Islam, Saudi to punish insulting Islam, 15 Jul 2012 "Saudi Arabia is studying new regulations to criminalise insulting Islam, including in social media, and the law could carry heavy penalties, a Saudi paper said on Sunday."

Who did the Egyptian internet vote for?

Tal Pavel, Guardian/, Who did the Egyptian internet vote for?, 16 Jul 2012 , "The real "Facebook Revolution" is not about toppling the regime by those whose voices cannot be heard afterwards in the elections and in the government that is ruled for the time being by the military and representatives of the old regime. The true revolution will happen when the rate of penetration of the internet in Egypt rises, when it becomes a more-meaningful means of expression for those repressed groups in the population and in Arab society and a central tool for reducing ignorance and the digital gap."

Iran shuts down coffee shops in morality crackdown, Iran shuts down coffee shops in morality crackdown "Coffee shop culture has flourished in Iran in recent years, offering wireless Internet, snacks, hot drinks, and a place to hang out for Iranian youth in a country where there are no bars or Western chain restaurants or cafes.

"But that trend has been criticized by conservative Iranians who consider it a cultural imposition from the West and incompatible with Islamic values. The government periodically cracks down on behavior it considers un-Islamic, including mingling between the sexes outside of marriage."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Malaysia Islamic institute wants Muslims to innovate, Malaysia Islamic institute wants Muslims to innovate "The Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) Chairman Abdullah Ahmed Badawi called on Malaysian Muslims to start “pioneering” new technologies using local resources in an effort to boost homegrown innovation."

Norwegian prosecutor charges Islamic cleric with encouraging supporters to avenge imprisonment, Norwegian prosecutor charges Islamic cleric with encouraging supporters to avenge imprisonment "Prosecutor Marit Bakkevig on Wednesday filed charges against Krekar for posting online threats during that trial, including encouraging "killings or kidnappings" of Norwegians if he was imprisoned."

Timbuktu destruction: internet buzzes with debate

Radio Netherlands Worldwide. Timbuktu destruction: internet buzzes with debate "Reactions have been mixed with a discernible minority claiming that Ansar Dine are right to destroy the shrines and mausoleums. This assertion was made and echoed on the popular Maliweb news site: "These shrines don’t comply with Sharia, they must go." Others claim that the cultural destruction of Timbuktu actually began with the arrival of Europeans."

"But the majority of commentators go along with Sheikh Mohamed Diallo, also known as Bilal, the leader of the Sufis in Mali. "Whosoever attacks Timbuktu, attacks Islam," he says, qualifying the destruction of the tombs as acts of profanity. The website MuslimsDebate agrees. It calls Ansar Dine’s actions, in one word, "barbaric"."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring

Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring | United States Institute of Peace:

Another one for the ever expanding reading list - which I look forward to seeing eventually ... 

it's available as a pdf report. There was also an earlier report in the series.   Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics

Online Protesters Given Prison Sentences in Oman

Online Protesters Given Prison Sentences in Oman | Freedom House:

Nabeel Rajab: imprisoned for tweets

Nabeel Rajab: imprisoned for tweets, paying the price for the struggle for freedom « Bahrain Coordinating Committee:

Expat revolutionaries – unheralded heralds

Expat revolutionaries – unheralded heralds | Storyful Blog:  "For Libya’s expat community, glued to their computer screens as the revolution unfolded in their homeland, the Shabab Libya movement and their website were at the core of the action. They were a conduit to the combat, virtual eyes and ears on the ground, or so it might have seemed. They consistently relayed video as it emerged, adding whatever context they could piece together to give it some colour. They became, if not an unimpeachable source, a good steer on what was and was not worth trying to verify. The online activists behind the movement, Ayat Mneina and Omar Al-Barghathi, had met anonymously in an online anti-Gadhafi forum, and pooled their efforts initially through a Twitter account, and then through a website,, which became a major aggregator of content from the Libyan conflict."

Adultery Execution ‘Un-Islamic’: Scholars

Adultery Execution ‘Un-Islamic’: Scholars - Asia-Pacific - News -  ""A public execution of an Afghan woman on accusations of adultery is inviting a storm of outrage across Afghanistan, with Muslim scholars condemning the practice as running against the teachings of Islam."

How the Boy Next Door Accidentally Built a Syrian Spy Tool

How the Boy Next Door Accidentally Built a Syrian Spy Tool | Wired Enterprise | "Jean-Pierre Lesueur is in many ways a typical 22-year-old computer geek. He lives outside of Paris, coding Java by day for a European company that processes airline tickets. He likes playing the piano and reading Stephen Hawking. But he’s also the man who built Dark Comet — which was recently used by the Syrian government to steal information from the computers of activists fighting to overthrow it."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

'Recruit hackers'

"Top defence expert says the US should avoid 'ridiculous' prosecutions and use hackers' skills to detect and track enemies."

Taliban commander interview

Guardian, Taliban commander: we cannot win war and al-Qaida is a 'plague', 11 Jul 2012 "One of the Taliban's most senior commanders has admitted the insurgents cannot win the war in Afghanistan and that capturing Kabul is "a very distant prospect", obliging them to seek a settlement with other political forces in the country." See the original interview (in part) here: New Statesman, Preview: Michael Semple interviews a senior member of the Taliban

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cyber-Activism in Tunisia

Cyber-Activism in Tunisia: What is the ‘Obscene’ Trying to Tell Us? | Mideast Youth: "In Tunisia, cyber protest became active in the late nineties, when the internet first became available to the masses, but also at a time when Ben Ali’s regime was exerting its most austere repressive practices. At that time, a small fraction of activists opted for a form of dissent that is characterised by obscenity. By obscenity I mean that which is defined as morally inappropriate and flagged as vulgar, or as violating the codes of moral rectitude. It often involves sexual metaphors, allusions to sexual organs and sexual lewdness in both writing and visual art (particularly caricature and photoshopped art). The use of this language is becoming more and more pervasive among the sphere of bloggers and users of social networks, the largest majority of whom are university students, journalists and intellectuals."


There is an interesting piece in the August edition of Wired magazine on Esra'a Al Shafei and MidEastYouth - as part of an article entitled 'The revolution will be live-streamed'. I couldn't find it on the online edition (only in the print edition, and is probably in the iPad edition as well). It's well worth seeking out, however.

'Islamic Personality of 2012'

Dr Shaikh Yusuf Estes named Islamic Personality of 2012 - Khaleej Times: "Making the announcement at the Cultural and Scientific Association in Dubai on Monday, Ibrahim Bu Melha, Chairman of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award, said: “Dr Shaikh Yusuf Estes, born in 1944, is often featured as guest presenter and keynote speaker at various Islamic events. He frequently appears on various Islamic satellite TV channels, in addition to his personal websites and”"

'How Islamist Extremists Quote the Qur’an' - report

How Islamist Extremists Quote the Qur’an | CSC Center for Strategic Communication "This study analyzed the most frequently cited or quoted verses in the Center for Strategic Communication’s database of over 2,000 extremist texts. The texts date from the years 1998 to 2011, and originate primarily from the Middle East and North Africa. Taking this data as a starting point, we provide a qualitative analysis of the historical contexts and core narrative components of the cited passages."

This is an important topic. I have yet to read the report in detail, and it will be interesting to read feedback from academic researchers (and others) on this theme and the approach to this sensitive subject matter. I discussed some of the subject in my books, although not to the forensic detail that is suggested in the preamble of this report.

Yemen jihadi tweets

MEMRI, Online Jihadis Tweet Footage Of U.S. Marines Arriving In Yemen, Along With A Call To Target Them: 'An Opportunity For The Mujahideen To Taste... White Meat' "One notable example of how online jihadis are using Twitter against the U.S. military is a jihadi's tweet linking to a YouTube video with footage of what were identified as U.S. Marines arriving in Port Salif, in western Yemen, on June 30, 2012. The tweet, from an account registered to one "Abu 'Abd Al-Rahman" (@zoom6061), noted that the Marines' arrival was "an opportunity for the mujahideen to taste the flavor of white meat.""

Monday, July 09, 2012

Prayer mat designed to light up when facing Mecca, Prayer mat designed to light up when facing Mecca "“I was looking at designing flying carpets, but I came to a point where I needed to add a function to the project,” Ozenc told Mashable. “Then I came up with the prayer mat idea.”

"EL Sajaddah is not only functional, but artsy, as it is made mainly to be hung on the wall of the owner’s home. The carpet’s design is based on contemporary vector art, with the mosque on the carpet inspired by the Blue Mosque in Turkey. The base is black -- a nod to the Kaaba --, the motif is green -- the color of Islam --, which radiates light."

Lebanon: Internet fixed – well, sort of

NOW Lebanon -Internet fixed – well, sort of "When Telecom Minister Nicholas Sehnaoui sent a text message to every person in Lebanon on Friday assuring us that the internet had been fixed after two days of a nation-wide net blackout, we all breathed a sigh of relief. “We can deal with the power cuts, the traffic and the bouts of civic unrest,” we said, “as long as we have enough broadband to watch funny cat videos on YouTube.”"

And here's the related video:

Taliban video

AFP/Herald Sun, Global chorus of outrage after Afghan woman executed by Taliban for adultery, 9 Jul 2012 "Senior US and British figures have led a global chorus of outrage after the emergence of a shocking video showing the Taliban publicly executing a 22-year-old Afghan woman accused of adultery."

Arab Society in Revolt | Brookings Institution

Arab Society in Revolt | Brookings Institution According to the Brookings’ website, this book is out tomorrow. It contains a chapter by myself, which includes reference to social media issues.

Arab Society in Revolt

Heart And Soul, The Trouble with Pakistan's White Stripe

BBC - BBC World Service Programmes - Heart And Soul, The Trouble with Pakistan's White Stripe, Episode 1

Friday, July 06, 2012

CFP: Religions on the web (Le religieux sur Internet)

Religions on the web (Le religieux sur Internet) | Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies:

Annual conference of the French Association of Social Sciences of Religion (AFSR)

4 - 5 February 2013

Locking up cyberspace for minorities in Pakistan

Locking up cyberspace for minorities in Pakistan | Bytes for All, Pakistan: "Internet Freedom has become a key indicator to gauge the situation of civil liberties that a society enjoys in a country in the modern day world. In addition, democratic countries all around the world constitutionally ensure and practically respect the rights of religious and ethnic minorities to thrive in their society. Several international treaties including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also ensure these rights and make binding for the signatories to implement in its true letter and spirit. The extent and levels of freedom of speech and expression in any society is closely connected with the tolerance and importance it gives to the minorities."

Reading List: 'Inevitable Democracy in the Arab World'

9781137008497Inevitable Democracy in the Arab World : Wissam S. Yafi : Palgrave Macmillan  I am curious to see this optimistically titled book, which seems to have numerous references to technology issues.  There's a brief pdf sample on the above page.

WikiLeaks: Syria Files

AP/, WikiLeaks has data from 2.4 million Syrian emails   "The secret-spilling group WikiLeaks said Thursday it was in the process of publishing material from 2.4 million Syrian emails — many of which it said came from official government accounts."

See Wikileaks, SyriaFiles "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said: "The material is embarrassing to Syria, but it is also embarrassing to Syria’s opponents. It helps us not merely to criticise one group or another, but to understand their interests, actions and thoughts. It is only through understanding this conflict that we can hope to resolve it."

"At this time Syria is undergoing a violent internal conflict that has killed between 6,000 and 15,000 people in the last 18 months. The Syria Files shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and economy, but they also reveal how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another."

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Courtship in Islam - opinion piece

Opinion piece Ustaz AbdulJaleel Solaudeen, Tribune (Nigeria), Courtship in Islam  "Internet courting is in new practice found among the muslims today. This act is not encouraged because of its woes. In most cases it involves giving false impression about oneself just to win the heart of the man or woman. It also involves wasting our precious time in writing polished e-mails and exchanging worthless chats."

Timbuktu - update

The Washington Post, Islamist fighters in Timbuktu continue destruction of city’s mausoleums, heritage, 3 Jul 2012

Muslim women show flair for their fashion

Muslim women show flair for their fashion | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal ""Using the Internet and social media, these entrepreneurs have expanded their businesses in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. They have a growing Muslim population to cater to, with around 2.6 million living in the U.S., according to census data, and about 150,000 in North Texas, according to the Association of Religion Data Archives at Pennsylvania State University."

Militant group claims Syrian TV channel attack

Militant group claims Syrian TV channel attack - Emirates 24/7: "The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which follows jihadist websites, said late on Tuesday that the Al Nusra Front, a militant group, claimed it carried out the June 27 attack in a message posted on Islamist Internet forums."

Tracking jihadists in Switzerland

Growing threat : Tracking jihadists in Switzerland- swissinfo: "Swiss intelligence services have observed an increase in the number of trips made out of Europe for jihadist purposes, with the internet playing a central role in radicalising young people confused by Western society."

'Arab Spring' photographs

Guardian, Arab Spring photographs added to British Museum and V&A collection | "Photographs created in reaction to the Arab Spring of 2011 will form an important part of a major collection of Middle Eastern photography being established jointly by the British Museum and the V&A."

This is a good initiative. One model to follow (which included social media) was the Arab Revolutions exhibit in Cardiff last year. Maybe they should crowd-source ideas for the collection - to include professional photographers and (perhaps more importantly) other contributions.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

'Touareg Islamist Group Ansar Al-Din Seeks Support In Jihadist Forums', Touareg Islamist Group Ansar Al-Din Seeks Support In Jihadist Forums, 3 Jul 2012 "The group’s media official, Sanda Ould Bouamama, recently held a series of discussions on global jihadist forums, including the “Ansar Al-Mujahideen Network”. "The Touareg Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) called on “brothers and members” of the network to submit questions about the organisation’s ideology and the situation in the Azawad region."

'French Arrest Man Suspected of Financing al Qaeda'

WSJ, French Arrest Man Suspected of Financing al Qaeda, 3 Jul 2012 "The prosecutor cited "serious and concordant evidence" that the suspect sent material from his computer to terrorist groups. It says he played a "centralizing role" in collecting funds for terrorist groups to buy weapons, but didn't elaborate on how much money was involved."

Monday, July 02, 2012

Sudan Protests - CrowdVoice

Sudan Protests - CrowdVoice

links to Sudan blogger protests.

Fugitive blogger

Mirror Online, Fugitive Samantha Lewthwaite - the 'white widow' of 7/7 - writes chilling online blog - "In the haunting blog, Samantha Lewthaite, whose husband Jermaine Lindsay blew up a Piccadilly Line train during the London attacks in 2005, says “fear can make you do many things” and warns she faces “many more challenges” in the months ahead.

"Her blog Fears and Tears: the Confessions of a Female Muhajid is the first time Lewthaite, 28, has made any attempt to communicate with the outside world since she fled to Africa."

21 Magnificent Mosque Pictures, 21 Magnificent Mosque Pictures good selection of photos

Anonymous Arabs hack into hundreds of Israeli accounts

Digital Journal, Anonymous Arabs hack into hundreds of Israeli accounts "The cyber war between Arab hackers and Israeli websites continues. Anonymous Arab website announces they have hacked into hundreds of Israeli email accounts and revealed email addresses and passwords on their Internet site."