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See If You Can Spot What Tom Friedman Misses

Tom Friedman may want to think harder about this:

Last week, five men from northern Virginia were arrested in Pakistan, where they went, they told Pakistani police, to join the jihad against U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They first made contact with two extremist organizations in Pakistan by e-mail in August. As The Washington Post reported on Sunday: “ ‘Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online,’ a high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official said. … ‘Increasingly, recruiters are taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers because places like that are under scrutiny. So what these guys are doing is turning to the Internet,’ said Evan Kohlmann, a senior analyst with the U.S.-based NEFA Foundation, a private group that monitors extremist Web sites.”

The Obama team is fond of citing how many “allies” we have in the Afghan coalition. Sorry, but we don’t need more NATO allies to kill more Taliban and Al Qaeda. We need more Arab and Muslim allies to kill their extremist ideas, which, thanks to the Virtual Afghanistan, are now being spread farther than ever before.

No one ought to diminish the threat posed by Internet-borne extremism. But no one ought to inflate it, either. Lost in the pearl-clutching over viral and online takfirism is the fact that … those Virginians were promptly apprehended by the Pakistanis before they could do anything. And as I reported in my piece Monday, the more al-Qaeda’s recruitment goes online, the further it endangers itself to penetration by intelligence and law enforcement. The plots that don’t get busted up tend to be disturbed individuals acting alone. That’s a dangerous problem, of course, and one that requires vigilance. And here, yes, Friedman and others do have a point, since online fora for extremism can contribute to such acts even without serving as a conduit to specific terrorist organizations. But Friedman shouldn’t act as if this is a danger of equal intensity or that the United States is powerless to effect it.

And this is leaving aside Friedman’s disgusting call that “Islam needs the same civil war” that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in the 19th century.

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