Like no American enemy before, Al Qaeda has cleverly employed computer and electronic technology in its war of terror, according to an examination in the New York Times. Often, the terrorist group manages to piggyback web pages on the sites of unwitting hosts in the U.S. Federal investigators, with the help of a small army of private contractors monitoring sites around the clock and across the world, are trying to find out how. Attempting to apply broad new powers established by the Patriot Act, the government wants to punish those who it claims provide expert advice or assistance and therefore play an integral part of a global terror campaign that increasingly relies on the Internet.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee recently, called such Web sites “cyber sanctuaries.” Ever since the United States-led coalition smashed Al Qaeda’s training grounds in Afghanistan, cyber substitutes, which recruit terrorists and raise money, have proliferated. Qaeda operatives have employed an arsenal of technical tools to communicate – from e-mail encryption and computer war games to grisly videotapes showing beheadings. But investigators say they worry most about the Internet because extremists can reach a broad audience with relatively little chance of detection.