March 01, 2005
Terrorists Using Internet Cafes to Coordinate Attacks
A very interesting Newsday article discusses the nature of the Iraqi insurgency and speculates on the whereabouts of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The main thrust of the article is that Zarqawi is not nearly as central to the insurgency as many believe. The main leadership of the insurgency is a revised Baathist party. Buried in the report is this interesting piece of information:
Most of the communication between various militant groups, including al-Zarqawi and his supporters, is done through Internet cafes. "Telephone communications in Iraq are difficult," Majid said, "but the Internet is everywhere and it is difficult to track."American Intelligence is in very bad shape when it comes to monitoring Islamic bulletin boards and message forums. These forums are well known places of jihadi activity. While the better known forums such as al Ansar (now The Islamic News Network) are used to promote jihadi propaganda and post messages for the Western media which monitors its activities, thousands of other small internet groups have formed around the goal of global jihad. Many of them use well known places of virtual gathering such as Yahoo Groups.
If US Intelligence truly wishes to fight the global jihad, then these forums must be shut down. Whether or not we use legal injunctions or covert cyber-attacks, it does not matter. What matters is that the main tool for terrorist communications must be broken.
It might be argued that the Intelligence community allows these forums to continue operation as a source of tracking the terrorist networks. If this is the case then US Intelligence operations are operating in a pre-911 law enforcement mode. Disrupting the capability of terrorist cells is far more important than capturing any single terrorist. This is not a law enforcement exercise we are engaged in, this is war.