Here's how it works: Al Qaida operates a series of websites that covers
everything from indoctrination, recruitment, targeting and operations. Those
with questions can use Al Qaida's chat rooms.
The Internet has vastly reduced the need for target reconnaissance by Al
Qaida. Weimann, regarded as a leading expert in Al Qaida-aligned websites,
told the Nov. 21 conference in Wiesbaden that Al Qaida uses Google Earth,
which scours satelllite images, to locate targets.
But Western governments have been torn between following Internet crime
and terrorism. Several EU states have strict regulations regarding
monitoring users on the Internet and reserve their authority to track child
pornography, organized crime and espionage.
Joerg Ziercke, president of the German Federal Police Office, raised
another issue. Terrorists and other criminals often use laptops in apartment
buildings where they latch on to the connections of other wireless users.
Ziercke said this often prevents authorities from identifying users of Al
Olga Maitland, a former British parliamentarian and president of the
British Defence and Security Forum, agreed, Maitland said terrorists operate
7,000 websites that remain in operation and uncensored.
"The authorities tend to concentrate on the threats from interception
and hacking, which is serious, but I think they should be paying more
attention to the use of the Internet by terrorists," Maitland told a Gulf
conference in Manama in late November. "Personally, I think they are going
to grow in power and influence as more and more people go online. Government
agencies should be spending more and more time finding and monitoring these
Maitland's fear, echoed by strategists in NATO, is that Al Qaida will
try or succeed in hacking air traffic control systems or national
banks. That could lead to thousands of dead as well as the collapse of
"We must concentrate on monitoring what they talk about and gain
information on what they are planning," Maitland said.