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Dr. Musa Barhoumeh

Soft Cells Booby-Trap Virtual Space

In geology, equally as in life and humanities, earthquakes, storms, and volcanoes may cause tremors or aftershocks that are more damaging than the event itself in that the reaction sometimes may outweigh the same very act, and such reactions may pop up unexpectedly from anywhere no matter how wise the one observing it is. Inasmuch as the terrorist organizations that take the jihad as their slogan have been heavily defeated and are still in severe defeats; it would incite sympathizers or affiliates hidden in its project to take the reaction. Such reactions may not always be violent or bloody; rather, a disguise of "good" invitation, counselling or preaching, especially such a people have an easy mobility in society. Such people constitute what could be called the "Sleeper Cells," although the word "cells" is a precursor to the organization, which the terrorists have developed so that they no longer rely on hierarchical structure, and merely build psychological constructs based on sharing ideology and disseminating perceptions that serve the ideology of terrorism. Since the "Sleeper Cells" have been linked in political fiction to those that carry out terrorist acts; they kill, burn, and explode, we have decided to distinguish them from those "Soft" Cells that booby-trap the virtual space and distort the truth.

These soft cells of terrorist organisations spread hatred, discredit political systems and challenge their legitimacy and pose problems by breaking false news that sometimes relies on advanced technologies which makes it problematic even for experts due to downright mendacity. Perhaps many people have seen how a global news channel such as CNN has distorted the fact by displaying a fabricated video that shows the US President Donald Trump trying to fondle Pope Francis’ hand in the Vatican City last June, describing Trump’s act as a "shameful harassment attempt"!From this quagmire are the soft cells fed, adopting multiple thin disguises, the most dangerous is the one hosted by the "social media" platforms, forming the "electronic militias" that tell lies, pretending to be very knowledgeable about true religion, , encode certainty, and speak on behalf of the heavens. What makes them gain a ubiquitous presence and considerable attention that sometimes affects the general public, is that some agencies with money and power support adopt and fund them if necessary, especially as the conflict has developed into regional camps and alliances. Yet, those unable to pull off victory on the ground may seek hollow victories through the media and the virtual world that is rife with lies. Modern technologies and security systems have provided them with incubating environments, safe havens and fortified strongholds and trenches, making it difficult to catch them. So, what can be done to counter them and defeat their evils? There are many approaches that are relevant to this context, the most important of which is the creation of an equally efficient discourse that dispels lies, in the sense of refuting the argument by cogency and evidence that also benefit from the advancement of technology because those confused are waiting for someone to get them convinced or allure them to their side. In the second stage, it is necessary not only to defend, but also to devise a strategy of attack in the medium-term and the short-term, a strategy that works according to a mechanism which attracts media and politics and cooperates with the security side of the equation. This is a mission that the state should adopt and be ready for with new mechanisms to cut off the link to political mobilization and discourse, hackneyed phrases, labored slogans and threadbare shouts and cheers. The media world is always witnessing continuous "knowledge" explosions, and those not keeping pace with this are losing the battle in the media. In the same vein, it is not surprising that the information shown on how billions of dollars are squandered on Arab and international media websites, aiming at "burnishing" the image of the country, absolving it of charges and improving its presence in international forums. This may bring direct returns because most people are in inattention and they do not always bring to focus what they see and hear for further analysis, review and methodological skepticism. If the terrorist organizations generate electronic arms that wreak havoc in the virtual world, poisoning people's minds, adopting obscurantism ideas and promoting obscurity and brutality, then the "Soft Cells" do nothing less ugly than these ones; they sow the seeds of sedition in societies, fuel and incite hatred, feed schisms, and stoke fire into foolish and trivial mishaps and tell a pack of lies of that.

What makes these "Soft Cells" receive undivided attention and prying eyes is that they work in such a way that truth and fabrication are in utter confusion. Fabrication has developed into a profession and art, in which hackers, directed bloggers and users of ideological platforms compete. With that said, the people interacting become hopelessly confused of what to believe and what to disbelieve. This is the vulnerability from which the soft cells infiltrate and on which they feed. As the Arabic proverb reads "diamond cut diamond", there is no way out but through confrontation, breaking down speeches based on window-dressing and mendacity, exposing a web of lies one by one. This necessitates an advanced political media strategy which takes into consideration all the causes of the "battle", its limits and its targeted objectives. Retreating into silence and inaction, considering the proverb that reads “progress cannot be stopped by the criticisms of scoundrels”, has become futile; any gaps the "social media" will be filled only by rumors if facts are concealed. This scenario entails a painful confirmation, which means that the battle is unethical; the opponent who professionally misrepresents facts, perfects hate speech, artfully throws a spanner in the works to divide people and incites and whips up religious, ethnic, and sectarian components against one another is an unfair opponent and should be deterred and their illusions should be dispelled and shattered If this opponent is full of his fears, anxieties, and ignominies, and armed with their certainties that claim they are fully aware of and knowledgeable about the fundamentals of religion and the true law, the battle with them is even bitterly worse. A good piece of advice does no good for them, and it becomes absolutely necessary to expose their lies, ruses and tricks and to dismantle the arsenal where they hide behind its rusty walls. This requires an advanced discourse that builds anti-extremism plans and promotes a rational and flexible language that understands the rhythm of the era and the transformations of civilization. As extremism is linked to religions and addressed to all believers, it has become necessary to showcase the pleasant values of religion that call for moderation and share with human beings of all races of all walks of life in human mosques. Meeting with others requires sharing air, space, hope, fraternity, glimmer of light, promoting tolerance and disseminating the target principles of religion based on justice and goodness, and not to make religion the cauldron that boils on the human fire and is stirred by the human pain and suffering. In addition, the confrontation becomes more desperate when confronted with the ideological opponent who sees the spread of terror and fear as jihad for the sake of Allah. Accordingly, such opponents establish electronic armies, fabricate the people’s conscience and incite them against their countries, considering that home countries are geographically not stable and that loyalty is to the holy ideology posited by their mentor, who leads to what serves their narrow partisan agenda without taking into consideration the consequences of the disintegration of nations, the fight between brothers, belligerency and the booby-trapped fragmentation of the coexistence rules.

The "Soft Cells" that feed on lies and undermine the pillars of what is right in the virtual space impose rough rules of engagement. It is easy to defeat armies, but it is harder to defeat the ideology whose believers and exponents have barricaded themselves with the absolute certainties that that are protected by the sacred, while claiming the possession of what is absolutely right, investing in the need of people to religious sanctuaries that provide them with satisfaction and patience, inviting them to exercise and endurance. These sanctuaries, however, soon reveal a dilemma beyond the compassionate side of religions which considers religion as a source of solace and comfort, to become a source of hatred for society and the country, turning a blind eye to any achievements and positive signs. They are the devouring cells and the deeply ingrained desire to crush and kill off any glimmer of hope. These cells are active on social networking media; an insight on Twitter is enough to make sure of the size of such cells that create every moment (hashtags) fraught with hatred and full of grudge. The observers have followed the (hashtag) created by the tweeters, which offends a tribe in Saudi Arabia; it has received more than 64 thousand tweets within 24 hours, which reflects the scheme of those "Soft Cells" to incite and propagate division among the same members of the community, as well as the racism that was reflected in the comments of the tweeters and the majority of the tweeters were right, while the creators of the (hashtag) hurriedly and hectically promoted and defended it by tooth and nail as if they were on a sacred mission. Yet, where is the holiness in promoting evil and slander, and in drying up the sources of mercy and goodness within the hearts and minds of people.