U.S. Could Face More Attacks Like Boston, Report on Digital Terror Suggests

The report also found a 30 percent increase in hate speech over 2012’s findings.

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A new report on digital terror and hate suggests the U.S. could face more attacks like the recent bombing in Boston.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Digital Terrorism and Hate Project report, released Wednesday on Capitol Hill, tracked more than 20,000 hate and terror sites, forums and social network pages, where it found an array of troubling communications.

[READ: Boston Marathon Bombers Originally Planned July 4 Attack, Reports Say]

In a media release, associate dean of the center Rabbi Abraham Cooper warned that "the proliferation of terrorism tutorials, and the abuse of social media and online forums by extremists portend that future Lone Wolf attacks here and abroad are inevitable."

Some sites encouraged extremist Islamist beliefs like the ones held by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who are accused of carrying out the Boston marathon bombings, while others provided a vehicle for self-radicalization.

The report, the 15th annual by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, points specifically to Jihadist forums that promote cyber and violent terror, and to websites that give out step-by-step advice on how to become a "lone wolf" terrorist. It also points to images online that encourage targeting the Freedom Tower, built on the site of the former World Trade Center, or destroying the U.S. Capitol.

[READ: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's Friends Charged With Dumping Backpack, Lying ]

The report from the Jewish human rights organization also warned of the continued influence of Inspire, an online magazine published by al-Qaida, which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators his brother had read. Several issues of the magazine include instructions on how to build bombs out of kitchen pressure cookers, which were used in the Boston attacks.

Past issues of Inspire have included advice on how to build "the ultimate mowing machine," and on how to use remote control detonation. The magazine published its 10th anniversary issue in February.

[READ: Cemeteries Uninterested in Boston Bomber]

The Wiesenthal Center report also tracked U.S.-based sites and social networks, where it found hate speech proliferating from white supremacist groups, such as the Aryan Front Forum, as well as from racist religious groups, such as Crusaders for Yahweh, which claims Jews are the spawn of Satan.

Hate speech online is up 30 percent globally compared to 2012, according to the report.

The report also found terror and hate was spreading to new technologies, such as Instagram, Tumblr and Weebly, a service that allows people to create websites without coding experience and is favored by the group Aryan Terror Brigade. The report lauded Facebook for policing hate on its network, while it said Twitter had a long way to go.

A briefing on the report was hosted Wednesday by Rep. Eliot Engel, N.Y., ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and its chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., along with the Wiesenthal Center's associate dean Cooper.

[READ: Russian Forces Raid Extremists With Boston Bombing Link]

Cooper said congressional leaders must play "a vital role" in finding new strategies to handle "the unprecedented threats posed by online hate and terrorism."

 

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