Internet a key challenge for US counter-terrorism

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 18:16

Washington: Policing the Internet, which
jihadists are using with increasing sophistication to spread
their gospel of terror across the world, is a challenge for
the US, a top counter-terrorism official has said.

Acknowledging that monitoring the Internet was a
challenge for counter-terrorism authorities to prevent another
9/11, Michael Leiter, Director of the National
Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) says the US is doing all it
can to disrupt jihadist websites.

While Leiter did not comment on specific operations, he
said, "... all of what we do in the war on terror has to be
all elements of national power."

"And part of that clearly can involve watching what
jihadists are doing on the Internet and, when ... necessary,
to disrupt the attacks, disrupting their ability to
communicate, train and plot."

When it comes to disrupting terrorists` abilities to
use terror for propaganda, Leiter, who will step down on
Friday from NCTC, says it was a tricky area in the US because
of the right to privacy and constitutional elements like the
First Amendment and other legal aspects.

"So we are not there to stop people from communicating.
We are there to disrupt plots," he was quoted as saying by
CNN. "I think as the threat changes, as American
expectations of privacy change, we have to constantly
re-evaluate that.

"But again, as al Qaeda evolves, as our expectation of
privacy evolves, this has to be a constant review of what we
are doing because we have to have the American people`s trust
to do it well," added Leiter.

Leiter said one of the the most striking trends during
his 4-years` tenure at the NCTC has been the proliferation
of homegrown terrorist plots.

One of the best known cases of homegrown terrorism in
the US is that of Major Nidal Hasan, the US Army psychiatrist
charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a
November 5, 2009 shooting rampage at the Fort Hood army base.

Last month, two US men were charged with plotting to
attack a military centre in the northwestern US city of
Seattle with machine guns and grenades, allegedly hoping to
kill more people than Hasan did at Fort Hood.

Leiter said he believes rooting out the problem requires
broader and deeper engagement with the Muslim community.

"Like any social phenomenon there`s not a single root
cause. There`s ideological pieces. There`s psychological
pieces; there`s demographic pieces," he said.

"So the first is understanding it. And I think we`ve
come a long way in understanding radicalisation here and
abroad. Really most important, I think, (is) making sure that
Americans understand that the American Muslim community is
part of the solution to combating radicalisation, and not part
of the problem," Leiter said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 18:16

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