Is Islamist cryptography evil?

A commercial product, Mujahideen Secrets, will be on the the market soon, according to advertisements. Sporting an array of tough encryption features, it raises some questions for privacy advocates that, Mitch thinks, are easily answered.
Written by Mitch Ratcliffe, Contributor

The Global Islamic Media Front announced in an advertisement on January 1 that it will release "the first Islamic computer program for secure exchange on the Internet." There will certainly be a cry for more limits on encryption technology, which has been spreading despite having been treated as a weapon by the United States for decades. Privacy advocates, myself included, will be asked again whether we were wrong to insist that crypto be available to the public.

Mujahideen Secrets, the upcoming Islamic jihadist cryptography application, offers 256-bit symmetrical and 2,048-bit There are other Arabic interfaces for encryption of data that make no reference to jihad.asymmetrical encryption for the holy warrior. Basically, Mujahideen Secrets is comparable to any number of commercial products available here in the United States, including MF Encryption Pad by Data Fortress, AliveComputing's Alive File Encryption, and many other apps listed here.

There are other Arabic interfaces for encryption of data that make no reference to jihad.

The difference is an Islamist skin, which seems more a gimmick to inspire confidence in the software than a guarantee it will be effective. It's like being offered "Security, brought to you by the Republican Party," which we have seen isn't all it's cracked up to be. 

So, does this suggest we should have locked down crypto technology years ago, jailed Jim Bidzos and Phil Zimmerman, among others, and prevented this disastrous breach of national security? I know some former federal agents who tried to lock up the technology and people who developed and distributed it, but the answer is an unequivocal "No."

Publicly available encryption has helped far more than an Islamist-branded product will ever hurt. The ability to hide messages, among many good works, has helped democracy movements thrive around the world, supports the work of human rights activists and, most recently, was probably used to help members of Islam in anti-Ahmadinejad campaigns organize to rebuke Iran's belligerent president.

When people have their hands on the same tools government and the military has used in the past within totalitarian regimes, it transforms more than the threat to American interests. Cryptography can assist free peoples and in freeing people, so if a jihadist wants to use it that is simply the price of our greater liberty, which, if we are right that freedom is what people will overcome whatever evil cryptography may be put to.

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NOTE: There was some concern raised that I appear to be arguing all members of Islam are terrorists. That is certainly not my feeling, as Islam is a religion of peace and no more combative historically than any of the other major theistic movements. In this case, the association of mujahideen ("holy warrior") and cryptography is a blatant marketing tactic, but one that will give anti-free crypto forces something more to argue about, as well. 

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