Monday, March 8, 2010

Drug War Goes Digital

By now most of us are aware that al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups use the Internet to distribute propaganda. Of late other non-state actors have also embraced the Internet to get their message out.

On March 3 a user claiming to represent the "Mexican Cyber Cartel", an alliance between the Cartel de Sinaloa, the Gulf Cartel and the Familia Michoacana, uploaded a video to YouTube. The video, entitled "The truth about what is happening in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon", appears to be an attempt by the Mexican Cyber Cartel to win public support in its ongoing war with "Los Zetas" - a criminal/mercenary army of ex-Mexican special forces soldiers.

Hat Tip to Georgetown Grad Ben Turner for pointing this video out.

1 comment:

dana said...

For me, this video was interesting not because of the Mexican drug war itself, but because of what this video says about the future of propaganda on the Internet.

As a general rule, it seems like people are drawn to sensationalized, even radical, media accounts of what’s going on around them. And it seems like when this happens, moderating influences get drowned out by extremism on either side of the issue. We see it today in the U.S. when people get more excited about discussing what Nancy Pelosi and Glenn Beck are saying than what the vast majority of people in the middle have to say.

So when groups like this post radical, sensationalized accounts of conflicts on the Internet, it makes me think the opposing side is bound to respond with a similarly radical message for their side of the story. And along these lines, as more and more propaganda shows up on the Internet from Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups, I think we’re going to see more and more vigilante-type groups in the U.S. coming up with their own radical responses to terrorist propaganda, which will only add fuel to the fire and interfere with U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

This seems like a big problem to me, but it doesn’t seem like something that has an easy solution. In order to deal with this issue, I think the U.S. government needs to take a more active stance in countering jihadist propaganda. If the government can be more effective in responding to jihadi propaganda warfare, we stand a better chance of sidelining radical domestic groups that will, if given the chance, take the opportunity to radicalize the U.S. response.