In the War on Terrorism, the terrorists may have an unusual ally: American internet service providers (ISPs). U.S.-based ISPs provide web-hosting for terrorists ranging from Hamas and Hizbullah to Palestinian Jihad. This cyber-fifth column is illegal, can be prosecuted, and must be shut down if we hope to stop Islamic fundamentalists from winning the hearts and minds of a generation of their young.
The swift action taken last month by the Colorado-based ISP Level3 and the Virginia-based ISP Network Solution prove that this can be done. After being alerted, both ISP”s tracked and shut down Hamas and Hizbollah websites.
Governments can take action, too. Last week, the British government, responding to the U.S. request under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries, ordered the closure of 20 media websites in 17 countries that advocated terrorism.
U.S. government efforts to punish those who provide terrorists with “expert advice or assistance” for operating websites was denounced by Arsalan Iftikhar, the legal director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as “open[ing] the floodgates to really marginalizing a lot of the free speech that has been a hallmark of the American legal and political system.” Yet, our war against the plague of Islamist fundamentalism is unlikely to succeed as long as its most virulent organs of communication are allowed to operate freely on the internet and on TV, inciting violence for jihad. Currently, anyone can purchase web-hosting services without providing any real personal information aside from a valid credit card number.
On September 9, 2004, the Treasury Department designated as terrorists the U.S. branch of the Saudi-based Al Haramain Islamic Foundation (AHF). However, on September 10th, a day after Al Haramain was designated as terrorist, its website (www.alharamain.org), which is registered and run by U.S. Director Suliman Al-Buthe — also designated as terrorist – disingenuously stated that America’s financial war on terror is doomed to failure because it is “smearing anyone who attempted to understand the root causes of anti-American terrorism.” Further, in American attempts to part the terrorists from their money, “the collateral damage are the poor, the orphans and the children.”
Al Haramain is also listed as a member on the website of the Friends of Charities Association (www.foca.net), which is registered by the same Suliman Al-Buthe, and hosted by W3Gateway.com, Inc., of Houston, Texas. FOCA was established in January 2004 in Washington, D.C. According to its website, it “represents some of the leading charities who have devoted their existence to translating donor intent into action to relieve suffering illiteracy and poverty around the world.” Among its listed members are two major Saudi organizations with documented ties to Islamists terrorism: the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO). The Al Haramain office is still open in Jeddah, despite official announcements of its closure.
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