Al-Qaida Members Seen Using Chat Rooms to Plan Attacks

Global Security Newswire Staff
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Aug. 16, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

Al-Qaida mem­bers have been us­ing en­cryp­ted In­ter­net for­ums and closed chat rooms to plot out and or­gan­ize ter­ror­ist at­tacks, such as the re­cently al­leged scheme to at­tack U.S. dip­lo­mat­ic out­posts in the Middle East, the New York Post re­por­ted on Thursday.

Al-Qaida chief Ay­man al-Za­wahiri and his seni­or deputy in Ye­men, Nas­ir ul-Wuhay­shi, were be­lieved un­likely to have taken part in the In­ter­net con­ver­sa­tions them­selves, as they would likely wish to avoid do­ing any­thing to tip off the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­munity to their where­abouts. Rather, the men used a mul­ti­fa­ceted en­coded sys­tem to de­liv­er mes­sages and or­ders to al-Qaida fight­ers, ac­cord­ing to uniden­ti­fied U.S. of­fi­cials.

The In­ter­net activ­ity, which was mon­itored by U.S. in­tel­li­gence ana­lysts, led the U.S. gov­ern­ment to or­der the shut­ter­ing of a num­ber of Mideast and Afric­an em­bassies and con­su­lates for more than sev­en days as a pre­cau­tion­ary meas­ure.

The ter­ror­ist threat — de­tails of which have not been dis­closed — grew out of a com­mu­nic­a­tion from Wuhay­shi to Za­wahiri that ba­sic­ally re­ques­ted ap­prov­al for a plan to carry out the as­saults. The al-Qaida chief’s reply was then dis­sem­in­ated on a closed mes­sage board.

The abil­ity of ter­ror­ist en­tit­ies to cloak their In­ter­net activ­ity from gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance has im­proved over the years, ac­cord­ing to re­search­ers.

“This cre­ates a bit of a cat-and-mouse game between ter­ror­ist groups that can buy com­mer­cial tech­no­logy and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that are try­ing to find ways to con­tin­ue to mon­it­or,” Rand Corp. coun­terter­ror­ism ex­pert Seth Jones said in an in­ter­view.

Earli­er this week, Wuhay­shi vowed ac­tions would be taken to break free mem­bers of his or­gan­iz­a­tion that have been jailed, Al-Jaz­eera re­por­ted.

“The im­pris­on­ment will not last and the chains will be broken,” the Ye­meni ter­ror­ist lead­er said. “Your broth­ers are about to bring down the walls and thrones of evil … and vic­tory is with­in reach.”

What We're Following See More »
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
8 hours ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Variety Looks at How Michelle Obama Has Leveraged Pop Culture
9 hours ago

“My view is, first you get them to laugh, then you get them to listen," says Michelle Obama in a new profile in Variety. "So I’m always game for a good joke, and I’m not so formal in this role. There’s very little that we can’t do that people wouldn’t appreciate.” According to writer Ted Johnson, Mrs. Obama has leveraged the power of pop culture far beyond her predecessors. "Where are the people?" she asks. "Well, they’re not reading the op-ed pieces in the major newspapers. They’re not watching Sunday morning news talk shows. They’re doing what most people are doing: They are watching TV.”

New York Times, Other News Organizations Hacked
10 hours ago

The FBI and other US security agencies are currently investigating a series of computer breaches found within The New York Times and other news organizations. It is expected that the hacks were carried out by individuals working for Russian intelligence. It is believed that these cyber attacks are part of a "broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said."

NLRB: Graduate Students Can Unionize
10 hours ago

In a 3-1 decision, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of Columbia University graduate students, granting them the legal right to unionize. The petition was brought by a number of teaching assistants enrolled in graduate school. This decision could pave the way for thousands of new union members, depending on if students at other schools nationwide wish to join unions. A number of universities spoke out in opposition to this possibility, saying injecting collective bargaining into graduate school could create a host of difficulties.

Trump Cancels Rallies
16 hours ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.