Columnists, Opinion

BURKE: ISIS and the internet

Terror struck again on Friday when an explosive went off in a London tube train, injuring over 30 people. Authorities in the United Kingdom said the explosion was a remote-controlled improvised explosive device that did not go off properly. Had it gone off correctly, it would have been an explosion on the same scale as the one that killed 22 people and injured many more at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year. This is the fourth terrorist attack in London in 2017.

While the facts are a bit iffy at this time as arrests are being made, we do know that ISIS claimed responsibility shortly after the attack. President Donald Trump tweeted an array of things — mostly nonsense — after the attack. No matter the amount of ludicrous statements he makes on that website, he did make one good point on Sept. 15, with the tweet “The internet is [ISIS’] main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!” I really agree with this point. It seems as though whenever we learn about terrorist attacks, we learn that they are carried out by young, easily-influenced people. A man was just arrested in connection to this attack and he was only 18 years old.

The internet currently serves as a place where ISIS can easily recruit young people from all around the world. YouTube has been fiercely criticized for their mishandlings of ISIS propaganda videos, with many still accessible right now.

The government, and the NSA in particular, needs to do a much better job of limiting these videos and reporting them whenever they are posted. As citizens, we need to do our part in reporting ISIS’ YouTube, Twitter and Facebook accounts whenever we see them. Young people are easily influenced, and it may only take one video to plant the seed of radicalization in the mind of a misguided teen stuck in suburbia.

Trump also tweeted that the travel ban needs to be “far larger, tougher and more specific.” While I do not agree with the way that the travel ban has been presented this past year — mainly because it seemed to single out Muslims as a group, and not just bad individuals like it should — it is becoming tougher and tougher to deny that the use of a process of extreme vetting is unfair.

In general, the United States has a far tougher screening program than the average European country, and the results of this policy have been demonstrated clearly this year in the amount of terrorist attacks that has happened here as opposed to the amount that has happened in Europe. I’m not saying we should implement this process of vetting with just people from the Middle East or with just those who practice Islam, but with literally everyone who wants to come to the United States. Our country would be safer and we would be able to sleep a little better at night.

In the end, the internet is the number one enemy right now. With this easily-accessible tool playing such a huge factor in recruitment for ISIS, it would not surprise me if the next attack on the United States was from someone in our own country, or someone from a country that we wouldn’t immediately think of when we think of terrorists. The government needs to put pressure on Google, who owns YouTube, as well as the owners of other social media sites, to step up and start cleaning up the ISIS junk. If they refuse, they should face severe punishment.

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