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NSA’s Targeting of Radical Muslims’ Porn Viewing Like Something Out of Hoover’s COINTELPRO

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander (Creative Commons-licensed Photo by CSIS)

Six individuals, who are each Muslim, were apparently targeted by the National Security Agency because they had engaged in “online promiscuity” or viewed pornographic websites, according to a top secret document from former NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and provided to Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Grim for Huffington Post.

The tactic was developed in the office of the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), and a document detailing it was sent out October 3, 2012. It was sent to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Commerce, Department of Interior, Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation and the US Trade Representative. It also was sent to Kingston, Jamaica and the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago.

The document suggests “radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent.”

“Some of the vulnerabilities, if exposed, would likely call into question a radicalizer’s devotion to the jihadist cause, leading to the degradation or loss of his authority.” One of these vulnerabilities is “viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

It further indicates the tactic was developed off “Sunni extremist communications” and was intended to undermine the ways that these individuals known for their speech. The NSA specifically developed a matrix comparing the individuals “authority, argument, countries where they resonate and their personal vulnerabilities.”

Three of the individuals DIRNSA intended to target resonated with English-speaking audiences. The three others resonated with Arabic-speaking audiences.

Significantly, DIRNSA acknowledged the “communications profiles of these English-language radicalizers reveal that very few of the contacts noted were associated with terrorism, suggesting that the target audience includes individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message.”

The Huffington Post further reported these individuals’ speeches and writings resonated in countries like Germany, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. “Some of the data was gleaned through FBI surveillance programs carried out under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA).” The government collected some of the data on what the government considered embarrassing activities from “primary sources with direct access” to the individuals.

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."