Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Web posts, while documenting world history at the grass roots level, give up valuable evidences and clues of "precrime" like in "Minority Report"


Autobiographical posts by suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from the Christmas Day Detroit Incident show depression, and obsession with a certain way at looking at radical Islamic values. The Washington Post story is Phillip Rucker and Julie Tate, Dec. 29, link here.

Many of the suspect’s postings were in forums hosted by others, a practice more common ten years ago before blogs and social networking sites took off. Some were on the “Islamic Forum”, URL here. http://www.gawaher.com/ But some of his sentiments were also found on Facebook. Will authorities starting trolling the web for "precrime" like in the movie "Minority Report"?

Generally, personal history postings, common on blogs, do enrich a serious “social science” researcher’s understanding of what is going on in a society at a grass roots level, way beyond what “professional media” report. But sometimes they communicate a preoccupation with ideology or belief for its own sake, a dislike of familial or social attachments developed by others. The media is reporting that a significant number of young Muslim men are persuaded to develop radical belief systems, with many of these men in the West (especially Britain and Europe) and many persuaded in part by what they find on the Internet.

Circumstantial evidence and interrogation (not rendition) so far suggests that the suspect, after shunning his wealthy family, was “trained” in Yemen, as indicated also by a statement by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. While Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano maintains that there is no evidence yet that the plot is bigger, other evidence suggests extensive planning in Yemen (headline Post story today by Carrie Johnson).

The front page of the Tuesday Washington Post also has an article by Greg Jaffe on the way blogs can communicate the sense of sacrifice by some military families, in this case the Yllescas family, with their blog here. The Post link is here. Read the seven year old’s blunt question there. It would be hard for me personally to imagine putting myself in that position.

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