TAMPA — At the headquarters of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., some young civilians are pushing back at extremist messages that permeate Internet forums. This Digital Engagement Team’s members, who are fluent in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, comb through online postings in their respective languages looking for incendiary or inaccurate commentary about U.S. military operations or related activity. When these messages are found, the team prepares “engagements” that challenge the writer’s logic or facts.
A recent example: A Farsi-speaking member of the team found a commentary defending the suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed more than 40 Iraqi army recruits. This engagement specialist responded by challenging the premise that such murderous attacks, which kill mostly Muslims, can be justified.