Shin Bet Chief Warns: Internet Boosting Global Terror Threat

'The internet provides terror organizations with the kind of intel that was once available only to countries,' says Yuval Diskin at homeland security conference.

Shin Bet security service Director Yuval Diskin said Monday that terror threats facing Israel are gradually becoming far more complex than the threats of the past thanks to technological innovations in the service of globalization. "The internet is providing terror organizations with the kind of intel that was once available only to countries," he said.

Emil Salman

Speaking at a homeland security conference in Tel Aviv, Diskin said that "it is possible to fight terror successfully, and even defeat it, but success requires a general cooperation between countries and intelligence agencies and the free flow of knowledge, intelligence and homeland security technology, as well as operational cooperation at a high level and the development of a global judicial system."

"Technology has made the world smaller and flatter," he went on to say. "The availability of technology that has revolutionized economy and communications has also given rise to many global terror opportunities."

The Shin Bet chief gave some examples of how "technology allows terror to cross more borders and continents." The first example was the purchase of weapons by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Iran and Korea, which arrive in Yemen and Sudan and are then smuggled through Egypt into Gaza, while the same terror organizations, based in Gaza, smuggle fighters through Egypt to Iran to train and prepare terror attacks.

"Terrorists use internet chat rooms," Diskin declared. "These are people who read certain Websites, and undergo cyber-brain washing by al-Qaida operatives. The kind of information that is available [on these Websites] teaches them how to handle explosives and evade security service organizations like the one I head."

Diskin warned that the biggest threat is currently coming out of the Islamic Jihad, and targets global flights via passenger-carried explosives, or mail bombs, or the use of shoulder-launched missiles. In addition, he explained, suicide bombers also pose a real threat on flights.

"It is possible to remotely attack essential infrastructure by using the Internet, and cause real damage and loss of life," Diskin continued, adding that the most significant development in the field is the breaking down of "psychological inhibitions" from the kinds of mega-terror attacks exemplified by the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City and Washington.

Diskin elaborated on Israel's battle against terror, saying that it has advanced leaps and bounds since a recent restructuring within the Shin Bet and cooperation with different anti-terror bodies.

"In addition to these, one super-capability is required, one for which, unfortunately, no technology has been invented – putting egos aside and knowing to subjugate relative advantages in pursuit of the common goal: the safety of citizens," Diskin added. "For this to happen, we need leadership from the political and operational echelons."

"Getting used to this takes time," he continued, "but if we don't do this quickly there will be a painful price to pay. Our intelligence capabilities have been good at times, but when the cooperation wasn't effective, the desired goal wasnt' achieved."

However, Diskin concluded, "through combined efforts, we've been able to thwart hundreds of suicide bombings and prevent more than 120 terror attacks that were launched."