Magazine article Newsweek

Terror: The Hunt for Zarqawi's Webmasters

Magazine article Newsweek

Terror: The Hunt for Zarqawi's Webmasters

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Hosenball

Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are learning that tracking down the operators of Islamic terrorist Web sites is like trying to locate a floating craps game: here today, gone tomorrow. During the past year, investigators in America and Europe watched as a business called 357Hosting, based near Utrecht, the Netherlands, became the officially registered Internet host for several notorious militant Islamic Web pages and bulletin boards, including sites that disseminated videos of beheadings of foreign hostages in Iraq and messages from Qaeda leader Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. The public prosecutor's office in Utrecht tells NEWSWEEK that it has opened a criminal investigation into possible Internet hate crimes.

But the former operator of the hosting company claims that ownership of the firm has already moved out of the Netherlands. In e-mails, 357Hosting's former chief, who asked to be called "Awad," acknowledged that his business last year hosted Web sites "that may be deemed as radical," including sites that glorify the actions of Iraqi militants and others promoting the Palestinian resistance. Information on 357Hosting's own site indicates that the Dutch firm offered Islamic groups bargain-basement rates, from as little as 4.99 euro ($6.47) per month. Awad says a former owner of 357 even offered Islamic groups free space, raising questions among investigators as to whether 357's rates were subsidized by wealthy Islamists from outside the Netherlands. One site hosted by 357, Albasrah. …

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