Are Radical Muslims Tracking Christians Online?
Here’s yet more evidence that while the Internet may be a wonderful invention to encourage free speech and an often no-holds-barred discussion of ideas, there could be real perils lurking out there if your real identity (and religion) is known.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, writing in the New York Sun, has an intriguing piece that says radical Muslims are tracking Christians online:
A radical Islamic Web site systematically tracks Christians on PalTalk.com, an Internet chat service on which a New Jersey man received a death threat two months before he and his family were murdered. The password protected Arabic Web site, at the address www.barsomyat.com, features pictures and information about Christians who have been particularly active in debating Muslims on PalTalk.
One page from barsomyat.com features a group of photographs of a Syrian Christian, “Joseph,” who now lives in Canada. Barsomyat.com’s users have posted personal information about Joseph, including his brother’s parole status, and make clear that they are actively trying to track down his current address.
Subscribers also post explicit warnings to Joseph. One comment states, “Know, oh Christian, that you are not far from us and you are under our watchful eyes!” Another user remarks, “Laugh, oh Chrisitan, and soon you will see a big hit.”
Ahmed Paul, an Egyptian Christian and a theology student in America, said he believes Joseph was targeted because he frequently engaged in debates with Muslims on PalTalk. The Internet chat service attracts up to 3 million users a month, and subjects range from movies to music to religion to adult topics — and some Arabic-speaking users of PalTalk have reported that contentious debates between Christians and Muslims are common in certain chat rooms.
Hossam Armanious, a Coptic Christian from Jersey City, N.J., who was found murdered earlier this month, frequently debated with Muslims on PalTalk. Two months before Armanious’s murder, authorities said he received a death threat from a Muslim PalTalk user: “You’d better stop this bull … or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you.” On January 14, Armanious and his family — including two daughters, ages 15 and 8 — were found killed in their Jersey City home, bound and gagged with their throats slashed.
Authorities have not determined whehter Islamic extremists are to blame for the Armanious family’s murder, nor is there any apparent link between the murder and barsomyat.com’s tracking of Christians on PalTalk. However, many barsomyat.com users expressed jubilation at the deaths.
Read the whole article. There’s more, such as this:
Author Robert Spencer, who has been following the Armanious case for his Web site Jihad Watch, described barsomyat.com as “extremely important” after it was shown to him.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Spencer said. “It’s chilling to see photographs of people who probably have no idea that they’re on the Web site. Hamas’s Web site would post self-congratulatory accounts of their attacks on civilians, but barsomyat.com’s users are telegraphiing their intended victims in advance.”
Mr. Spencer added that barsomyat.com is a “prime example” of how some Islamic extremists can utilize technology to attempt to bring Islamic religious law to the West.
“We saw in the Theo van Gogh murders that some Muslims will take these kinds of matters into their own hands,” Mr. Spencer said. “The Internet makes it easier for them to do so by disseminating this kind of information. You could imagine 15 years ago how hard it would be for people to get this much information on people who they believe should be killed.
How serious do authorities take this potential threat?
This serious: Gartenstein-Ross’s piece has triggered an FBI investigation.