by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
January 2, 2009
According to the Telegraph, security analysts have found that a branch of al-Qaeda has utilizied internet casinos to launder money for attacks. The newspaper reports that a group of computer experts have created an “online University of Jihad,” where individuals throughout Britain are trained as potential terrorists.
The online University was created to avoid its recruits travelling to Pakistani camps, and its software, Mujahidden Secrets 2, is impervious to intelligence agents. As such, al-Qaeda militants may communicate using e-mail without retribution. “Al-Qaeda want to create a University of Jihad online, both in a spiritual and financial sense. They want a community that can carry out attack without having to travel aboard for training,” says Terry Prattar, a specialist in counter-terrorism.
Prattar notes that al-Qaeda has made use of the internet to finance this University, including the use of online casino gambling websites to launder money. Recruited youths are prompted to post on online forums to “prove themselves.”
Additionally, a specialist group known as the Al Ansar Media Battalion, has posted videos of American and British troops under physical attack to “make people here feel they are taking part in what [is] going on over there,” according to Pattar.
The internet is being used in many ways to promote insurgents. One individual, dubbed the Bagdhad Sniper, was said to have gathered a massive following through the use of social networking site, Facebook. However, coalition forces believe that they have since killed him.
The terrorist organizations in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are additionally using Google maps as an information resource for targeting designated victims.
Security analysts are now encouraging moderate Muslims to post in the online forums to engage in rational discussion among young people. An intelligence source has described this methods as one of “ideas, not weapons and a campaign of internet, not training camps.”
Online casino advocates feel that the proper regulation of internet gambling could be advantageous in the war on terror. Internet companies such as E*Trade, which has been fined on two separate occasions for failing to properly implement money laundering screening, have received moderation – therefore tightening their ability to detect money laundering.
Currently, the internet gambling websites used by terrorists are lacking any source of U.S. regulation. As such, the government is not privileged to vital information as to their whereabouts. E*Trade claims that they since have put a safeguard in place to avoid future money laundering.
“E*trade upgraded its system to provide an automated method to monitor for this particular activity, and those systems have been in place for over a year,” said company spokesperson Pamela Erickson.
Similar regulations could be applied to online casinos, which would then serve as a valuable tool for the government against any person or terrorist organization that is unlawfully using gambling sites for this purpose. Currently, U.S. officials report that they are using anti-gambling laws to prosecute those involved in money laundering. However, there is much information that remains unavailable while online gambling remains a criminal offense.