WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is not doing enough to counter terrorist propaganda on the Internet, says analyst Bruce Hoffman.
Hoffman told a congressional briefing that there are more than 5,000 terrorist Internet sites, up by 1,000 from a year ago, and lamented that only 6 percent of the Voice of America budget is devoted to internet communications.
"It's great that we have set up Arab language TV stations like Alhura and radio stations like Alsawa, helping and supporting Arab language newspapers, but (that is not) reaching the demographic that we need to be reaching," he said, pointing out that in Arabic countries, as elsewhere, young people were getting news from the Internet rather than radio, TV or newspapers.
Acknowledging that the war on terror has increasingly become a battle for "hearts and minds," Hoffman argued that challenging what Islamic youth see on terrorist Web sites is essential to "break the cycle of recruitment and regeneration" by terrorist groups.
Hoffman told united Press International later that it was impossible to shut down these Internet sites, but more money should be directed to setting up other sites which "contest them".
He said that it was not necessarily an American job to counter these Web sites, but said that America should be "empowering and enabling other countries to do so."