Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Al Qaeda fighters planning and coordinating attacks on secret chat rooms and internet message boards


In secretive chat rooms and on encrypted Internet message boards, al Qaeda fighters have been planning and coordinating attacks — including a threatened if vague plot that US officials say closed 19 diplomatic posts across Africa and the Middle East for more than a week.

It’s highly unlikely that al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, or his chief lieutenant in Yemen, Nasser al-Wahishi, were personally part of the Internet chatter or, given the intense manhunt for both by US spy agencies, that they ever go online or pick up the phone to discuss terror plots, experts say.

“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,” said Seth Jones, a former adviser to US special operations forces and counterterrorism expert at Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank that receives US government funding. “Some of the technology you can buy is pretty good, and it evolves, and it is a game that is constantly evolving.”

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