Information Warfare: Al Qaeda Goes Dark


September15, 2008:  One important event this past September 11 went unnoticed. Al Qaeda had earlier promised an important video release on September 11. But the video, thought to be a rant from some senior al Qaeda official (maybe even bin Laden), never showed up. There are two possible reasons for this. First, there is the recent dismantling of the al Qaeda Internet media operation (mostly in Iraq, but in other countries as well.) This has cut down the production of al Qaeda vids. In fact, recently captured al Qaeda communications had a senior guy complaining about the media people trying to recycle old combat videos as new.

Second, there's the growing war by anti-terrorist hackers (individuals and groups) to shut down pro-terrorist web sites. Sometimes these vigilantes are exceedingly effective, and lately they may have shut down all of the few sites used as distribution points for important new videos. That brings up another point. Islamic terrorists are often described as having "thousands (usually 5,000+) of web sites." But 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.

Islamic terrorists have been reaching out to their supporters on the Internet, openly asking for ideas and information. This is a dangerous thing for terrorism fans 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 eventually leads to arrests.

The intelligence agencies prefer that the Islamic terror sites stay online, so their users can be watched and identified. But the anti-terror vigilante hackers want to fight back, and no one has the heart, or the means,  to stop them.



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