Israel monitoring social media to prevent attacks

The IDF has been monitoring social media to prevent attacks by young Arab terrorists, the Economist reported on Monday.

The army has developed special algorithms to create lists of potential suspects, which has reportedly resulted in some successes in foiling attacks.

Dozens of young Arab terrorists have been receiving “warning visits” from the Shin Bet security service, which informed them that they were under surveillance. Their names are also given to the Palestinian Authority for further monitoring.

The strategy is an attempt by Israel’s security services to address six months of terror attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers, which for the most part have been committed by young terrorists with no known link to organized groups. This unorganized terrorism, which lacks any kind of chain of command, has created a situation in which Israeli soldiers “have to look at every Arab as a potential suspect, which is a bad situation.”

The Israeli government has frequently pointed to Palestinian incitement to violence on the internet, especially on social media networks. While these sites make it difficult to stop incitement from spreading, the intelligence community now sees them as an opportunity to identify terrorists before they strike.

“It’s a new paradigm where not only are we dealing with individuals with no organizational affiliation, but a week or even a day before, they had no idea they were going to carry out an attack,” an Israeli intelligence officer told the Economist. “What we can do is build in-depth profiles of past perpetrators, what motivated and inspired them, and based on what they have in common locate those with similar characteristics.”

Typical attributes of past terrorists include accusations that Israel intends to ban Muslims from the Temple Mount, criticism of Palestinian leadership, “and declarations of how they belong to a ‘lost generation’ or are personally enraged by a relative, friend or neighbor having been killed by Israel.”

Some terrorists captured alive have admitted that they were attempting suicide because of personal problems and wished to avoid being stigmatized – and so chose to become “martyrs”.