The British government may be deploying a new weapon against terrorists: Google.
According to the tech-related news site The Register, the Home Office's Office for Security and Counter Terrorism plans to work with "approved" Islamist Web sites to "flood the Internet" with pro-Western viewpoints.
It will train the operators of the pro-Western sites in search-engine optimization, an arcane strategy that basically makes sure your site is near the top of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft LiveSearch results pages.
That way, young British Muslims searching online for say, "jihad," will get pro-Western Web sites instead of Al Qaeda mouthpieces, or so the theory goes.
"In order to support mainstream voices, we work with local partners to help develop their communication, representational and leadership skills," an unnamed Home Office spokesman told The Register. "This support could include media training, which can help make their voices heard more widely, and support the development of skills which allow communities to be more effective in debate."
In fact, a Google search for "jihad" comes up with only two radical Islamist links out of the first 10 returned. But it's possible the British government effort could make it zero.
Then again, a recent study by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) doubted that curbing Islamist material online would have much impact on terrorist activity.
"It is unlikely that any but the most callow wannabe terrorist would use a mainstream search engine to find banned material," wrote the report entitled "Countering Online Radicalization."
A call and e-mail placed to the Home Office seeking comment were not immediately answered.