30/10/2010

Throwaway lines that speak volumes

I have been catching up on the Economist's last Technology Quarterly and was very interested in an article on  how  software is being used to analyse social networks and interactions. Mobile operators are using it to identify "influencers" by their calling patterns to give them incentives not leave a network even though they aren't themselves big spenders because they do generate a lot of revenue.

Without getting too techie and straight to the point, the same software is being used in counter terrorism and this raised the following throwaway line:

Attacks tend to increase, for example, as more money from Islamic charities flows into Lebanon.  Attacks decrease during election years, particularly as more Hizbullah members run for office and campaign energetically.
Which got me thinking, why isn't information like this more widely publicised rather than left to demonstrate how useful some software program can be? I know there is an argument that it will inflame anti Islamic sentiment, but there is a more important discussion to be had. Clearly some Muslims, and presumably non Muslims, are giving money to these charities which is then being used for violent purposes, which is not really what we expect of charities.

This begs the following questions:

1. Do the people know that they are giving money that is being used to further the aims of terrorists? If so, then they are hardly adherents of the religion of peace, are they? Further if they do know what they are doing, are they culpable and should they be arrested for aiding and abetting terrorism or funding terrorism?

2. If they don't know then they should be told so that they can make an informed decision, presumably to either stop funding terrorism or to knowingly fund it and face the consequences.

By also keeping this information out of the public debate as much possible it is playing in to the hands of those very anti Islamists that they are trying not to inflame.

This discussion went on for years around NorAid,, it was well known that they were a front for the IRA but a blind eye was turned. It wasn't until 9/11 that America woke up to the real impact of terrorism and that it wasn't some folk heroes in a far away land fighting some old wars, but real people getting killed and maimed and their funding stopped immediately.

Lets hope we don't need another 9/11 for those deluded fools to either stop or be forced to stop giving to terrorists of any persuasion.

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