The U.S. Homeland Security Department may soon start scouring the Internet to find blogs and message boards that terrorists use to plan attacks, reports USA Today. Researchers are seeing terrorists increasingly use the Internet to plan bombings, recruit members and spread propaganda. Officials are looking for companies to search the Internet for postings “in near to real-time which precede” an attack, particularly a bombing. Bombings are “of great concern” because terrorists can easily get materials and make an improvised-explosive device (IED), the department said.
“There is a lot of IED information generated by terrorists everywhere – websites, forums, people telling you where to buy fertilizer and how to plant IEDs,” said Hsinchun Chen of the University of Arizona’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Chen’s “Dark Web” research project has found 500 million terrorist pages and postings, including tens of thousands that discuss IEDs. It’s not clear how helpful blogs and message boards will be in uncovering planned attacks. “I just can’t envision a scenario where somebody posts to a message board, ‘I’m getting ready to launch an IED at this location,’ and the government will find that,” said terrorism analyst Matt Devost. A lot of postings about attacks are “fantasy, almost role-playing,” he said.