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Trends in Terror Prep Net Surfing

If you run a domain or a blog and keep track of your statistics, you know that there are always a couple of files or posts which pick up global currency in Google. They accumulate views, perhaps giving you a picture of the world collected through the lens of whatever you have written.

In another way of speaking, people, regions or countries display patterns determined by their interests, their likes, what they may be feeling about various issues, or their reactions to the news of the day. One can think of it as a variety of fingerprints left on your domain. And some countries, as DD will get to further in, have very specific fingerprints.

At my blog, outside of the index page, the mark of regular idle net surfing is in this post -- a photo of Joan Jett showing off her impressive rock 'n' roll looks.

However, with Najibullah Zazi's beauty parlor supply store bomb plot in the news, views of a different post, tied to searches on variations of 'peroxide bomb' swamped statistics.

That post is entitled "Peroxide Bomb, Easy to Make!" It was virtual flypaper.

And the graph of its access created by Google Analytics aligns with developments in the Zazi case as they made news.

The search keywords which made this post, as well as a couple other similar ones into hot landing pages, are listed in the next Google Analytics snapshot.

It's quite an accumulation related to peroxide bombs, one which overrode all other posts on the blog from 2006 to the present. It expanded the hits from dedicated Google search from a monthly average of 12 percent of the total traffic on the blog to about a quarter of the whole.

I decided to look back over previous years for a trend. And it does seem that a certain small number of young Muslim minds turn to peroxide bombs just prior to every September 11, as evidenced by either an unexplained spike in accesses or the exposure and rolling up of plots in progress.

This spike corresponds to an interrupted plot in Germany, one which made world news on September 5, 2007. (See here for a photo of evidence posted a couple days later.)

What about 2008?

Here a much smaller spike of interest in peroxide bombs rises out of the noise prior to September 11. Similar interest would have been hidden under the peaks displaying news of the German plot in 2007 and the Zazi case this year.

But is there a specific country which always shows a peroxide bomb fingerprint? And does it jibe with what we know about global terrorism?

The answer to both questions is yes.

Pakistan: The hard case of al Qaeda and Taliban wanna-be's and their expanding numbers

One country stands alone in the blog's web statistics: Pakistan.

The only thing net surfers from Pakistan land on at dickdestiny dot com are posts which reference peroxide bomb plots, jihadist recipes and documents for making poisons like cyanide or ricin, dirty bomb schemes, and other cases involving incarcerated members of al Qaeda.

The interest is invariant and monochromatic. Because it is this way, from the viewpoint of the blog, Pakistan always look like it has a subset of young men interested in nothing but jihad and terrorism -- a very close fit with the real world. And because there are no other colorations in this interest, it can be observed for a trend.

First, let's just take a look at few randomly chosen months of data from Pakistan.

From August 1 to September 11, 2007, everything in the above list relates to bomb-making plots, poison-making documents, poison gas and the war on terror.

Above, all but one post from June 2007, related to mayhem: peroxide bombs, ricin, trying to poison animals in a training camp and failing, terrorism, etc.

Moving along to February 2008: peroxide bombs, making miscellaneous poisons, ricin, the ultimate jihadist poisons handbook, dirty bombs, the will of Allah and convicted terrorist Dhiren Barot, torture, the Manual of Afghan Jihad and ... Joan Jett. I make the assumption the latter was accessed by someone from the West, sent to work in Pakistan and net surfing for a nice picture on an off day.

June 2009: More of the same.

In emphasis, this interest is constant.

For practical purposes, net surfers from Pakistan who access the blog, and -- who by definition must access other virtual locales -- look for nothing but text on terrorism and mayhem while they are using the net. "Bounce," time-on-page and repeat visitor statistics reinforce the impression that the visits are from a group of men constantly using Google to scan the net, not a group which bookmarks things in their 'favorites' tab.

The trend, citywide in Pakistan, stacks up in the following way. (I compared statistics from January 1-October 13, 2008 and the same period from 2009.)

Pakistan increase in 'mayhem' requests: 2008 vs 2009, by city as a percentage of the whole.

City map of mayhem requests, Pakistan. Note Quetta and Peshawar in the tribal areas, home to the Taliban and al Qaeda.

It's a bleak picture, considering the figures represent people only interested in terrorism and reading of it.

While the numbers are small, they are regular, permanent in terms of the age of the blog, and increasing.

They show that various things -- the escalation of Predator drone bombings/assassinations in 2009, the expansion of the US embassy, more CIA operation in the country and greater treasure thrown at the Pakistani government -- are not making Pakistan nicer or less filled with potential trouble. The level of animosity as shown by local interest has increased across the board, sometimes surprisingly so. If this is the US government's ongoing strategy for Pakistan, there is polling proof here that it is not working. In fact, it is having the opposite effect: More really angry young Muslim men.

The only good news here is a point I've made previously.

Since the beginning of the war on terror, the US mainstream media has created an artificial reality concerning it, one in which terrorists are assumed to be MacGyver-like characters, capable of making WMDs from just about anything -- very easily.

All they need is to access the Internet, to download information which will make the manufacture of poisons and explosives only a little harder than adding tequila and crushed ice to margerita mix.

And because the media and our government and private sector experts have propagated this meme on a regular basis, "Peroxide Bombs, Easy to Make!" and other texts like it have serendipitously floated to the top tier in search requests on the subject, making them virtual tools with which to gauge interest.

Fortunately for us, we live in world constrained by physical reality, not by what others wish it to be or think it is in the press. If we did not, reason stands to tell us bomb and poisoning plots would be commonplace in the west, not the recent historical pattern in which a handful of failed and aspirational plots are uncovered, marked by rare but globally well-known success.

Where they are common are those places where dedicated men have experience, opportunity, a sympathetic populace, total freedom to operate and ready access to explosives -- like Pakistan and Afghanistan. In other words, where individuals have a proven and current track record of actually doing it rather than scanning the net for it.

However, our net-surfing group very obviously constitutes a group of ready-minded recruits.

Since it is clear many young men in Pakistan apparently believe in this artificial reality, like Najibullah Zazi and others rolled up before him, they surf the net for things which don't really confer upon them any capability.

That capability can generally only be had through experience and guidance by people who are trained, not by others who only believe themselves to be well-trained.

But these numbers, while small, do show a group who may already be terrorists -- ineffective ones -- or individuals who may become more dangerous and efficient if they come under the wing of those who can provide them with the means to carry out the things they read about. And this core of leadership, expertise and logistical aid exists in Pakistan, unhindered.

Therefore, these blog numbers are certainly large enough to make possible the establishment of teams of terrorists, the likes of which are seen in action in Pakistan today.

A strategy which results in the growth of this crop is not a good one. In fact, news on Najibullah Zazi tells us he spent time in Pakistan in 2008 prior to returning to the US.

Is there another country similar to Pakistan in DD blog's stats? Yes.

It's Saudi Arabia.

I didn't data mine it as extensively as Pakistan but the profile is similar.

An example:

Saudi Arabia from May to September 11, 2009: each archive is tied, in this case, to interests in (drum roll) -- 'easy to make' peroxide bombs, ricin making, poisoning, al Qaeda operatives, etc.

Now -- is there a country in the news, an American bete noir, a place which is always be recommended for bombing, but which does not have a base of young men who surf for mayhem recipes?

You know the answer: Iran.

Iran logons from Jan -- April 2008. Interests: pornography (dd girls, as in Digital Desire girls; three on variations of 'iran fun,' agroterrorism in Iran, one for semtex, and another looking for fans of heavy metal on blogfa, a Persian blogging site.

"(Not set)" usually resolves to posts having to do with mentions of bombing Iran like here and here -- a sadly common wish.

I leave readers with a statistical plot from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, as you've already figured, is a black hole. One wagers those who surf the net out of Afghanistan, the occasional logon from Kabul, are likely to be corrupt members of the governing upper class.

"Take Advice From Ninnies" -- which is what was read here has a bit on where you can hide and launder your lootings -- Macau -- if you're a crooked government leader.

There seems to be some cosmic poetry in that.

George Smith blogs at Dick Destiny.

Comments (1)


Facinating, very well written. The facts are rather desturbing though, a dedicated leader could arise and craft the net sufing terrorist wannabes in pakistan into a (while not too effective) decently sized terrorist group, or a similar movement.

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