Lately there has been some rather bizarre hype about the potential threat from terrorists in cyberspace. Security specialists have been expressing increasing concern about the potential for mischief with Web 2.0. In particular, during the past six months a spate of newspaper articles have been citing security experts about the alleged danger that terrorists will use virtual worlds for nefarious purposes. Groups such as the U.S. government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity say they fear that terrorists -- using virtual personas called "avatars" -- will recruit new members online, transfer funds in ways that cannot be traced, and may engage in training exercises that are useful for real-world terrorist operations. They point to existing "terrorist groups" operating on virtual reality sites as an ominous sign.
Granted, militant jihadists have long used the Internet as a propaganda tool; recently, Osama bin Laden's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was even planning an online advice column for followers of al-Qaida worldwide. But what's the real game here?