April 09, 2009
"The relatively cheap expense and high quality of U.S. servers seems to attract jihadists," said Rita Katz, co-founder of the Site Intelligence Group, a private company that monitors the communications of Muslim extremist groups. Even al-Qaeda has sometimes paid American companies to serve as conduits for its hate-filled messages, said Katz, who has tracked such activity since 2003.
Militants' use of U.S. Web hosts has sparked occasional spats between the United States and its allies, as well as endless debates over whether it is better to shut down the Web sites when they're discovered or to let them continue to operate. By allowing them to remain online, intelligence analysts can sometimes discover clues about the leadership and structure of terrorist groups, some analysts say.
"You can learn a lot from the enemy by watching them chat online," said Martin Libicki, a senior policy analyst at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization. Libicki said the bloggers rarely spill secrets, and most are "probably using this more for public affairs rather than recruitment."
"Public affairs," in many cases, means blatantly anti-Western invective and propaganda.
For instance, the Afghan group that rented Web space from ThePlanet offered daily updates on skirmishes between Taliban fighters and U.S. "invaders" and Afghan "puppet army" troops. The Web site, http:/
/, frequently claimed that the group's forces had killed coalition troops and even destroyed warplanes and tanks -- accounts that bear little resemblance to coalition field reports on those dates. www.alemarah1.com
Another Taliban Web site, http:/
/, continues to operate, using the services of Free Web Town, a user-friendly template service run by Atlanta-based Tulix Systems. The group's site features regular updates about purported attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces and occasional interviews with Taliban leaders and commanders in English and the regional languages of Dari and Pashto. Toorabora.com
Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't FISA intended to monitor this stuff?
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