Tracking Terrorists Using the Dark Web

April 29, 2011

Posted April 29, 2011 by KVOA.com, KVOA Channel 4

TUCSON - The war on terror is being fought in cyberspace, from right here in Tucson.

"Most people engage in social media to communicate, and perhaps meet new people. Terrorists also use social media, but to breed  anger and hatred, recruit Jihadists, and plot the unthinkable. Experts say  there are thousands of them out there, right now.

"You have that many  people engage in discussion, they reveal their opinions, their sentiment, their  anger, their displease using their own language and in their own context," says Dr. Hsinchun Chen, UA professor and founder of Dark Web. On the day we  visited the Dark Web team, the program was tracking 15 million messages, sent  by a quarter-million users in five different languages.

Five years ago, we showed you a project called the "Dark Web." It's a cyber-battle station based at the University of Arizona. News 4 investigators revisited the place where computer scientists gather information about terrorists, from many of the same places on the web you use every day.

Most people engage in social media to communicate, and perhaps meet new people. Terrorists also use social media, but to breed anger and hatred, recruit Jihadists, and plot the unthinkable. Experts say there are thousands of them out   there, right now.

"You have that many people engage in discussion, they reveal their opinions, their sentiment, their anger, their displease using their own language and in   their own context," says Dr. Hsinchun Chen, UA professor and founder of Dark   Web.

He's developed sophisticated cyber-tools that allow his researchers to sift through the millions of daily posts and chats by suspected Jihadists on social media.

Dr. Chen's team of researchers slice and dice words, videos and data to create intricate maps, and get inside the most likely potential terrorist ties. These cyber-relationships resemble balls of yarn, or spider webs - each thread a tie to a potential terrorist, or terror plot."