Intelligence: February 15, 2005


While the Internet has become a major asset for terrorists, it has also provided some help to intelligence agencies. Not just in the ability to tap into email and other terrorist communication via the net, but in unexpected ways as well. For example, while most merchant sailors are from poor countries (operating on ships using a Flag of Convenience), the Internet has spread to these countries sufficiently that these seamen have access to web based recruiting services. Prospective hires post their personal information on the recruiting sites, and this makes data on merchant sailors easier to comb through when there is suspicion that terrorists are trying to use merchant ships for smuggling terrorists, or weapons. Internet cafes are particularly popular in Moslem countries, because so many people there have family and friends who have migrated. Email and VOIP (Internet telephone) are cheap and popular. These communications, especially the email, is easier to monitor, and much incipient terrorist activity is caught before it leads to violence. 


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