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Jewish Group Notes Increase in Digital Hate Activity - 2002-07-19


Officials of the Simon Wiesenthal Center say hate groups on the Internet have become increasingly active since the September terror attacks in the United States. The organization warns the Internet is spawning hate and terrorism.

This is the fifth year that the Jewish organization has released a CD-rom called "Digital Hate." This year's compilation lists 3,300 sites that the group calls "problematic," from racist and neo-Nazi sites to those that advocate suicide bombing.

Wiesenthal Center representatives say that, since September 11, the image of the terror attacks on New York's World Trade Center has been used to whip up hate. One Internet-based group called the World Church of the Creator posted the picture to urge the expulsion of Muslims from the United States in advance of what the group foresees as a coming race war. Another online group called the Aryan Nation used the photograph of the burning towers to praise Al-Qaida and the Taleban, saying they share a common enemy, the U.S. government. The avowed aim of the site is "keeping America white."

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said hate-based ideologies are coming together online, blurring the distinctions between skinheads, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.

One site based in Sweden features an online game that allows players to shoot black residents of the Stockholm suburb of Alby.

Another game called "Kaboom" features a suicide bomber who scores points based on the deaths and injuries he causes.

Rabbi Cooper said another game called Ethnic Cleansing is sponsored by a group called the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi organization. "It's the most sophisticated game," he said. "Technically it's a very attractive game. If you play, you can be an Aryan. (Or) you can play it as a skinhead. The main groups that you're going after, you're going to shoot down blacks and Jews in the streets of New York."

Rabbi Cooper said the National Alliance is one of the most sophisticated far-right groups online. The organization has bought an alternative music site that appeals to young people who are often unaware of its racist connections. The man behind the organization is William Pierce, the author of a controversial novel called The Turner Diaries. It is the story of a future race war in the United States and was a favorite of Timothy McVeigh, the man who bombed the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995, killing 168 people.

Author William Pierce can be heard on the Internet explaining his strategy.

"If our aim is to gain control of the machinery of power, then we must recruit people who already are part of the machinery. We need the technicians and the engineers and the scientists. We need the programmers and the system administrators. We need the professors and the military officers and the police officials."

And the Internet, say Wiesenthal Center officials, is becoming a tool of recruitment.

Officials of the center say most people drawn to such messages are on the fringes of society, but that young people may be ensnared by the messages of hate. One site that appears to chronicle the life of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King in fact tries to discredit him.

Rabbi Cooper said the man who allegedly tried to kill French president Jacques Chirac on Bastille Day was linked to several hate sites. Press reports say the gunman, Maxime Brunerie, posted a warning on a British Internet site called Combat 18 before striking. Eighteen is one of the numbers favored by Neo-Nazis: it refers to the first the eighth letters of the alphabet, a coded reference to the name "Adolph Hitler." In the days following the failed assassination attempt, the site's message board has contained comments praising the man's action.

In the past, similar sites have been linked to racist killings in the United States, but the links have never been clear enough to support criminal charges. But Wiesenthal Center officials warn the sites can be a catalyst, inciting hatred among some.

Perhaps most worrying, the center warns, is new technology that allows public Internet sites to carry encrypted messages. This technology provides private a communication network for members of racist and terrorist groups across the globe.

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