Monday, March 28, 2005

Radical Islamist web-sites

Here's an interesting thought exercise for freedom of speech. Does freedom of speech extend to those who preach the kind of war-making that gets labeled as terrorism? Does it extend to those who are performing the acts that get labeled as terrorism? And just when does a web-site be "allowed" to exist, or not?

At least in the U.S. a fundamental rule of our society is freedom of speech. Meaning that I have the right to call the President a liar, proclaim that he has performed high crimes and misdemeanors, call for his impeachment, and do all that without worry over what I've said. So long as I don't commit other crimes through my statements I have the freedom to say what I will.

To my American-born eyes, talk of tracking down or shutting down a website because of what it says is offensive. I see that, and fear for my own safety. Our mutual freedom to say whatever is on our minds rests in allowing even the most radical to have their voice as well.


Terror: The Hunt for Zarqawi's Webmasters
: (Newsweek, April 4 2005 issue)

The story tracks a web hosting company formerly based in Belgium who has been housing the websites for many radical islamist websites. The article says these sites have been the distribution point for videos of beheadings, and other atrocities, as well as "news dispatches" that seem to be from front line "terrorist" groups. And the article reports that Prosecutors in Utrecht have opened an invistigation under Internet hate-crimes laws.

Clearly the people publishing these web sites are in close relationship with people who are committing crimes, and who are labeled as "terrorists". The article mentions al Zarqawi by name, a person high on the U.S. most wanted list, and whom is the leader of the al-Qaeda tied group Ansar al-Islam.

Therefore it makes certain sense for the Authorities to attempt to track down the publishers of these web sites. Finding the publishers could be a link leading investigators to the people committing these crimes.

The concept of "Internet hate-crimes" is interesting, and one worth investigating. Are these being used to stifle freedom of speech? I don't know.