According to research by Jane’s Terrorism and Security Centre, which closely follows terrorism developments, the internet has probably become the main global source of literature promoting jihad, or “holy war”.
Richard Evans of Jane’s cites research that concludes: “It is virtually impossible to control the spread of jihad material among similar web pages once it has been published in one location.” All the websites linked to al-ansar.biz were hosted by the same Malaysian company, Acme Commerce, based in Kuala Lumpur. The company says it hosts 5,000 websites from up to 50 countries and cannot be blamed for their content. …
According to Jane’s, they had been used to distribute publications under the title Voice of Jihad, as well as an online jihadist magazine called al-Battar. Issued every two months, it carries essays on religious issues, advice on military strategy and training, and guidance on creating the “basic conditions for successful guerrilla warfare”.
The growth in the number of similar sites and the regularity with which they change addresses while retaining readers who rapidly communicate the new addresses, has overwhelmed law enforcement agencies. In some cases other websites have found themselves hijacked by Islamist programmers who write their material on to existing sites.
“It’s nearly impossible to police them,” said Kevin O’Brien, a terrorism expert with RAND Europe, a think-tank. “It’s a question of whether or not you can find them in the first place,” he said, adding that the cost of establishing the sites was negligible or even nil if service providers offered web space as a free addition to e-mail users.
Saudi Arabian Islamists distributing a web-based jihadist magazine called Sawt al-Jihad are now so confident of outwitting the authorities that the publication is distributed at the same time every two weeks. It has yet to be snared.
But some security experts say they may be left to operate deliberately. “It seems increasingly likely that security agencies are content to let these websites run, because it’s a way of monitoring what these people are up to,” said Bill DurodiÃ©, a security expert at King’s College, London.
So is Jihad Watch.