Counter-Terrorism: April 7, 2005



Some aspects of the war on terror are being fought in plain sight. Case in point is the terrorist use of the internet to recruit and communicate. Although most terrorist supporting web sites are constantly found out, and shut down (supporting a terrorist web site is not good for business if you are a web hosting company), some persevere. Case in point is the Al Ansar Forum. This is an Islamist website that regularly switches names and addresses. It is currently masquerading as the "Islamic News Network," at The Al Ansar Forum has been closely watched by the Israelis, who have disrupted its activities from time to time. Apparently, if one of these sites appears to be supporting actual attack planning, the counter-terrorism people have to decide if its a matter of life and death to disrupt the site. It can take at least a few days for the site to reconstitute itself somewhere else (even though alternate hosting services are often arranged for in advance), because the disruptors will have infiltrated the site, and, knowing the back-up sites, will take them down as well. A truly determined terrorist site operators can play this game of cat and mouse with counter-terrorism forces indefinitely. But no matter, the sites are a good source of information on the activities of terrorist organizations. The activity on the bulletin boards are also a good measure of public reaction to the organizations latest activities. For example, last year these terrorist web sites began to get a lot of hostile messages (in Arabic) complaining about the increasing number of Iraqis being killed by al Qaeda attacks. The resulting discussions indicated that the terrorist cause was being hurt by the killing of Moslem civilians.


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