Bloomberg News

Terrorism Is Going Mobile, Google's Eric Schmidt Says in New Book

May 01, 2013

The image of a terrorist holed up in cave recording intimidating videos on a camcorder may soon seem quaint. A new book by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt argues that Al Qaeda will be coordinating its attacks using smartphones.

In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Jared Cohen, another Google employee who co-authored The New Digital Age with Schmidt, described why this trend could make them more vulnerable.

"While terrorism can seem like a very scary thing in the long run when you imagine all the new ways that individuals can attack us, there's actually a reason to be optimistic," Cohen said. "You can't really imagine them operating in the caves of Tora Bora and being even remotely relevant. So if that's the case, then the room for error goes up significantly."

Cohen relayed a story from Navy SEALs who were tracking a senior Al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. For a while, they lost track of the accused terrorist because he would frequently discard phones and switch mobile SIM cards that could betray his whereabouts. Years later, the SEALs found the Al-Qaeda commander after he used one of his business phones to log a 45-minute conversation with his cousin about an upcoming wedding.

"Even though he was professionally careful, socially he made a mistake," Cohen said. "Even terrorists make mistakes."

The discussion about terrorists of the future comes at the 3:40 mark in the video. Also in the interview, Cohen said he expects countries to maintain different foreign policies governing the virtual and physical worlds that sometimes contradict. At least I won't have to worry about being tried for murder in Call of Duty.


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