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Hate Groups Use Internet to Recruit, Finance Terrorists, Rights Group Says - 2002-06-13


A prominent human rights organization said it has identified more than 3,400 Internet web sites that it said promote hate and terrorism. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said many of these sites are geared toward recruiting young people to their extremist ideologies.

The associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, demonstrates a hate game on a Swedish web site called "Shoot the Blacks."

"In order to stay alive in this game and keep playing it, you have to gun down the unarmed people on the other end. Otherwise, someone will pull up a shotgun or a gun in the game and shoot you. So, it is a very straightforward and very simplistic game with a very chilling message," Rabbi Cooper said.

Mr. Cooper said that a simple click of a computer mouse can access web sites that promote ethnic cleansing, neo-Nazi ideology, terrorism, suicide bombings, and other racist and hate viewpoints.

He says that since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the Internet has become a more dangerous place. He said many groups now use the Internet to find recruits for terrorist activities or to get financing for these missions. He said the Simon Wiesenthal Center has no solutions, but believes it is important to call attention to the problem.

"We are coming here with a small snapshot in real time of how the Internet is playing a role in the area of promotion of terrorism, promotion of hate, and the evolution of what we call transnational hate. Of extremists in different countries who could not even spell each others' name, let alone having any contact before the Internet came along, who are now increasingly being in touch with each other," Mr. Cooper said.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has researchers on four continents who look at 25,000 web sites a month and update the changes that occur. Mr. Cooper said its report, on CD-ROM, will be distributed to governments, law enforcement agencies, the media, and interested community groups free of charge. He said the CD contains a great deal of what he calls crucial information for local police tracking extremist groups.

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