Anti-terror chiefs want social media to help with 'lone wolves'

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WASHINGTON: As jihadist attacks are increasingly being carried out by home-grown "lone wolves," counter-terrorism chiefs of four Western powers said on Thursday that they need more support from social media companies to detect potential threats.

While traditional intelligence methods are foiling large-scale plots coordinated from abroad, the officials from the United States, Britain, Germany and Canada said that is not enough to uncover attacks by self-radicalised individuals.

Mr Paddy McGuinness, British Deputy National Security Adviser (Intelligence, Security and Resilience), said many countries are still too focused on foreign-derived attacks planned or directed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Al-Qaeda.

He said: "We are dealing with a problem in our communities, with people who do not travel, become radicalised and move to violence... These were British plots by British people."

Mr Christian Rousseau, head of Canada's Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre, said: "The generation of terrorism that is now most impactful in Canada is the inspired or enabled terrorism."

Those are people who self-radicalise or radicalise online, then decide to launch an attack.

The officials said the shift requires new approaches to detecting threats, with a focus on sources such as social media.

But privacy laws and the protections enjoyed by the largely American Internet and social media giants are impeding the authorities in their ability to ferret out lone wolf threats, they said.

Mr McGuinness said he wants to see more pro-active support from Facebook, Google and other online giants, with the ability to conduct large-scale automated scanning of users for threats.

He also called on the US to pass laws to lift a ban on US Internet companies responding to terror-related search warrants from foreign law authorities.

More than 95 per cent of crime and terror cases involve people using an American technology application, he said.

Mr Rousseau said: "Encryption is stopping us from seeing the whole picture."- AFP

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