SINGAPORE – What are terrorists doing on Facebook? And what can you do if someone you care about is abducted?
Rappler CEO Maria Ressa tackles these questions in her second book, “From bin Laden to Facebook: 10 Days of Abduction, 10 years of Terrorism,” which became available worldwide in hardcover and digital editions on Tuesday, April 2.
First launched in the Philippines in October last year, on the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, “From bin Laden to Facebook” made its debut here at Global Security Asia 2013, where government officials, security experts, academics and businessmen met to discuss counter-terrorism and security issues.
“Facebook connects more than a billion people globally and it is now a source of danger,” said Ressa who has tracked the spread of terrorism in the world and on the worldwide web.
What gives Ressa’s story punch is her powerful first-hand experience. As CNN’s lead investigative reporter in Southeast Asia for 18 years, she reported about terrorist attacks from the frontlines, right where they happened. Her video reports were found in Osama bin Laden’s private archive.
Later as the head of the Philippines’ largest news network, she harnessed all of that experience to lead a crisis team which in 10 days in 2008 negotiated for the release of reporter-anchor Ces Drilon and cameramen Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderrama, who were abducted by the Abu Sayyaf.
The behind-the-scene story of that kidnapping forms the backbone of “From bin Laden to Facebook,” around which Ressa weaves the history and the evolution of the jihadi virus in the Philippines. She makes sense of it all with social network theory, to provide a broad view of a network where each node is an actor (including terrorists and even herself), where each tie is based on the strength of relationships, and where everyone is interconnected.
“It’s all based on who is tied to whom and then you can see what flows through those ties,” Ressa explained.
“As we are utilizing social media to bring government closer to people, through her book, she shows that others are making use of the same instruments to spread an ideology of violence and terror,” wrote Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in a review on the book jacket.
“Her research into the methods of terrorist groups still active today will enable a better understanding of how these groups operate – and will serve as a good resource for those seeking peace and stability for all,” he added.
Longtime New York Times correspondent Seth Mydans called Ressa “one of the leading experts on terror in Southeast Asia,” who “has written a fascinating and important primer on the ties of family and loyalty that bind the region’s Islamist networks.”
Ressa’s first book, “Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia,” was largely read by the intelligence community and has been called “the first book on the rise of terrorism in Southeast Asia.”
But she wants her second book to reach a broader audience. A Philippine version of the book has been available since October and was one of the Inquirer’s Top 10 books of 2012. Now an international version can be bought in Singapore, either online at www.worldscientific.com or at most Kinokuniya bookstores for around USD $35.
The assistant marketing manager handling the book, Lee Hooi Yean, expects the book to start selling on Amazon.com by the end of the month, by which time a Kindle and hardback version will be available. – Rappler.com
Update: FROM BIN LADEN TO FACEBOOK is now available on Amazon.com as hardcover and e-book.
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