Information Warfare: November 14, 2003


There are hundreds of pro-al Qaeda web sites out there, not all of them visible (the URLs for these are not passed around freely and some of the sites are only "live" for a few hours a week.) But there are many public sites, and U.S. intelligence officials have been trying to prevent anti-al Qaeda hackers from knocking these web pages down. The reason is simple; the al Qaeda web sites are a good source of intelligence information. Some have probably already been "bugged" by CIA or NSA (National Security Agency) hackers. The messages posted to those sites provide a good source of information on what al Qaeda supporters think, and a well "bugged" (via special monitoring software) site can lead to the location of al Qaeda members or supporters. Al Qaeda knows this sort of thing is going on, but there's not much they can do to stop it. The United States has much better hacking resources than al Qaeda, but the Internet is so useful for terrorists to keep in touch with each other that they use it despite the risks. And the risks are real, with several instances of al Qaeda members being run to ground because of their Internet use. 


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