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Last ‘WhatsApp’ Message - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Terrorist Khalid Masood who has attacked the Houses of Parliament in London had sent an important message that the British security failed to decode on WhatsApp. The terrorist is a prior suspect and was under surveillance – has the security bodies comprehended the letter they would have foiled the operation.

This is merely a hypothesis. Yet, social media messages and calls remain a battlefield between the security bodies and terrorists who now consider these means as their modern arm.

One of the basic reasons behind the collapse of al-Qaeda is that its leaders abstained from these means of communication — Osama bin Laden, in his last years, relied on sending envoys who would deliver oral or written messages to evade security forces who now are able to listen, record, translate, recognize voices and determine locations easily.

New terrorists believe that the modern technology makes them expand wider, attract more youths and provide a free propaganda that is worth the risk.

WhatsApp is a landmark portal to the world – or what we think is the real world. Those who benefit the most are users who make, market and distribute information to others who in their turn send it to more than one billion people in the world, unaware of the motives.

Can all this information be monitored? If WikiLeaks’ latest disclosures turned out to be true then this means that all phones are prone to surveillance. The document reveals that the US intelligence managed to develop systems capable of hacking into devices.

With the huge technical security development, it has become a daily game to arrest terrorists, shell their shelters or exploit them. This technique is cursed and appreciated at the same time, since on one hand it helps terrorists mobilize and cause damage and on the other hand it assists security bodies to arrest criminals.

Apart from the security military war field, countries failed to confront the ideology. They were unsuccessful in halting the brainwash targeting millions day and night, using religions and exploiting instincts and gaps through their messages.

Spying is effective in besieging terrorist groups and individuals but can’t win the first phase of the terrorist act: the intellectual phase. Majority of phase one activities are not coded and actually, happen publicly round the clock.

Peoples’ minds are being washed through messages sent via broadcasts including pieces of advice, information, news, ideas, speeches, discussions, jokes, lessons, pictures, drawings and videos.

Although these messages are open for everyone yet comprehending and confronting them is tougher than decoding the most complicated confidential codes because it is an oriented culture.

The solution lies in the alternative culture, which is not yet wide-spread enough to face extremist messages.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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