Intelligence: Yet Another Secret War


September 5, 2008: While al Qaeda, and Islamic terrorism in general, is described as having "thousands (usually 5,000+) of web sites," nearly all of these are basically fan sites. There are only a few sites that actually conduct the business of terrorism. These sites are under heavy attack by anti-terrorism hackers, as well as being closely watched  many intelligence agencies, and a few private anti-terrorism organizations. This is one of the most important battles in the war on terror, and it takes place in near-total secrecy. The reason for this is that the terrorists are desperate to protect their secret communications, and the counter-terror operatives are determined to discover those secrets, preferably without the terrorists knowing they have been compromised.

Islamic terrorists have been reaching out to their supporters on the Internet, openly asking for ideas and information. This is a dangerous thing to participate in. If the local police catch someone sending suggestions or information to terrorist groups, it can get you arrested and jailed. Apparently it does put a lot of people on the police radar, and has eventually led to arrests. But the counter-terrorism police usually wait until the terrorist wannabes actually get close to actually doing something dangerous. Most of the terrorist helpers are inept and not energetic, or capable enough to actually do anything dangerous.

The terrorists have access to some Internet talent, but nothing like the resources available to the counter-terror organizations (especially those in the West, particularly the American NSA.) Apparently the most worrisome aspect of all this is terrorists gaining access to the resources of criminal gangs specializing in Internet crime. In the last few years, Internet crime has become big time, and very professional, with the big money attracting well funded, well led, and ruthless criminal organizations. These are often based in Eastern Europe (especially Bulgaria and Russia) and China. In general, the gangs don't want to get involved with terrorism, as the governments that tolerate the gangs, tend to be very hostile to Islamic terrorism. But the gangsters are greedy, and it's believed that some of them have been selling technology and services to terrorists, after precautions have been taken to conceal the source of the stuff. But the gangster grade software and techniques leave clues, and apparently the counter-terrorism investigators have picked up on this.

The details of this decade old battle won't come out for a while. But when the story is told, it will be spectacular.





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