Free Alaa! is a website dedicated to obtaining justice for Egyptian blogger Alaa, who as Tigerhawk says, was "apparently arrested ... in connection with the ongoing struggle in that country over the independence of the judiciary." Sandmonkey describes the events surrounding his arrest.
As you may have heard by now, Egyptian Blogger Alaa Abdel Fatah has been arrested alongside 10 others while demonstrating in support of the independence of the Judiciary in Egypt and the release of previous demonstrators who were detained 2 weeks earlier. The Police entrapped them, cordoning off their peaceful protest and then proceeded to handpick the demonstrators that they wanted to detain, beat them, and then arrested them. ... This is by no means a co-incidence. Government agents handpicked people to arrest from amongst the protesters. They have been wanting to get Alaa for a long time now, precisely because he is high profile, and because he helps organizes the protests and spread the information through the blog aggregator he runs (www.manalaa.net).
The tactics Free Alaa! advocates for doing pushing for Alaa's provide a glimpse into Internet warfare. Maybe you've heard of the weapons: email assault, Google bombs, wikis. Let's consider the email assault. The Big Pharaoh reports that:
I just got information that the Egyptian embassy in DC was bombarded with e-mails demanding the release of Alaa and the others. Good job. ...
As I stated before, the Egyptian embassy in DC got bombarded by emails from concerned average Americans. We are also suggesting you to contact David Welch, Assistant Secertary and head of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org Welch has been a very active US ambassador in Egypt. He definitely still retains many contacts with Egyptian officials.
Since one current measure of a person's fame is whether he has his own personal entry in Wikipedia, a guy from Florida started one up: Alaa Abd El-Fatah
The Google Bomb weapon requires a little explanation. It's basically a way of creating links which tricks the Google search engine into giving a certain phrase inordinate importance. Here's how it's done.
A google bomb could be achieved easily, this is a possible scenario :
1. The initiator chooses a word to be searched : "liars"
2. The initiator chooses the target website : "http://example.com/"
3. The initiator creates a link like this : <a href="http://example.com/">liars</a>
4. The initiator places this code in his website, as his signature in forum, in his blogs etc.
5. The initiator talks to other people about the bomb and tells other people to use the code in their own writings.
6. GoogleBot indexes and ranks, resulting in http://google.com/search?q=liars having the political party's webpage as a first result
Free Alaa! has proposed this Google bombing scheme.
You use the word googlebombingforalaa and link it to this:
so you get this: googlebombingforalaa
I think the effectiveness of the Internet campaign would be greatly enhanced if these Internet weapons were targeted by operational intelligence. A perfect example was cited by The Big Pharaoh. Because emails were directed at a particular target -- the Egyptian embassy -- they have had a perceptible impact. If it were scattered the effect would be less. Institutions with which the Egyptian government has dealings can be targeted in the same way -- and Egypt has dealings with companies, governments and cultural establishments -- and the outriders of Mubarak's public diplomacy will start taking palpable hits. Attacks like Google Bombs and Wikis are of a more general nature. They can set a tone, but they ineffective in themselves. So the next thing the Free Alaa! site should create is a targeting cell which can determine against which institutions email campaigns, petitions and the like can be directed.
It would also help if the campaign were pitched in politically neutral terms. Glenn Reynolds is the conservative Godfather of the Free Alaa campaign. If a leftist Godfather could be found then the campaign could be conducted in stereophonic. One last item: the demands to free Alaa should be designed with goal of leaving the Egyptian government an "out": a way in which they can accede to the demands without losing face or suffering undue public humiliation. It's not my idea. It Sun Tzu's.