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Thursday, July 09, 2009

How Cybersleuths like private investigator Bill Warner Operate

How Cybersleuths like private investigator Bill Warner Operate

By Howard Altman

Shortly after 9/11, Glen Jenvey, an unemployed truck driver living near Stonehenge, began pretending to be a Pakistani man who believed in violent jihad. His counterterrorism, which took place in the second-floor study of his stone house, helped lead to the arrest of Abu Hamza al-Masri, one of Europe's most vitriolic clerics.

"You have to hand it to these people," says an Indian military official who spoke on the condition that he only be identified as "the brigadier." Jenvey and other cybersleuths have "done some real work that has had some real results.

Working as a private investigator in Sarasota, Fla., Bill Warner spends part of his day chasing errant spouses and the rest of his time tracking down jihadis.

Playing a game of Internet Whack-a-Mole,
Warner has helped take down nine jihadi Web sites in the past six months, including one of the most important, Alhesbah, a principal forum for supporters of al-Qaida.

"I started with the Islamic Thinkers Society site in June of 2005, before it became all private and password protected," recalls Warner. "I downloaded a lot of their information and photos posted of U.S. servicemen being killed or their bodies mutilated after a firefight in Iraq or Afghanistan. I know what is posted on these Web sites; they need to be shut down.

"Beyond patriotism, cybersleuths state four main reasons for getting involved in the fight:
-- Disruption of jihadi Web activities
-- Intelligence gathering
-- Amateurs are not bound by the legal restrictions governments are
-- Western governments aren't doing enoughAl-Qaida members go online to recruit jihadis, raise money and train members with a combination of videos and manuals that teach bomb-making, combat techniques and building nuclear and biological weapons.

"The propaganda war is being fought by al-Qaida and its affiliates on the Internet, and the USA hasn't even stepped onto the court," cautions Warner.

Pro al-Qaida Web sites are filled with more than anti-U.S., Israel and Christian vitriol. There are beheading videos, images of American vehicles being blown up in Iraq and Afghanistan, calls for the slaughter of U.S. and Israeli citizens and predictions of imminent terror attacks.

Warner's frustration with government "inaction" has inspired him to take the fight into his own hands by tracking Web sites and getting IP providers to shut down online terrorist destinations.

Cybersleuths like Warner have infiltrated well-funded jihadi Web sites and wrought havoc. He says cybersleuths like him are stepping up to a job the government should be doing.