Three Worked Web to help terrorists

( LatWp ) -The global jihad landed in Linda Spence's e-mail inbox during the summer of 2003, in the form of a message urging her to verify her eBay account information. The 35-year-old New Jersey resident clicked on the link included in the message, which took her to a counterfeit eBay site where she entered personal financial information.

Spence's information wound up in the hands of a man in Britain who investigators say was the brains behind a cell that sought to facilitate bombings in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Investigators say Spence's stolen data made its way via the Internet black market for stolen identities to a 21-year-old biochemistry student, Tariq al-Daour, one of three British residents who pleaded guilty this week to using the Internet to incite murder.

Much has been written about how radical Islamic groups use the Internet to distribute propaganda and recruit members. The British investigation, however, revealed a significant link between Islamic terrorist groups and cyber-crime, and experts say security officials must do more to understand and confront cyber-crime as part of any overall strategy for combating terrorism.

Investigators in the United States and Britain say the three used computer viruses and stolen credit card accounts to set up a network of communication forums and Web sites that hosted such things as tutorials on computer hacking and bomb-making, and videos of beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq.

Authorities say one of the men, Waseem Mughal, a 24-year-old law student, was found with a computer containing a 26-minute video that included instructions in Arabic for preparing a suicide-bomb vest and a recipe for improvised explosives.

The third and perhaps best-known of the group, Moroccan-born Younes Tsouli, 23, became adept at setting up sites to host huge video files and other propaganda. Investigators said he became the de facto administrator of the online jihadist forum Muntada al-Ansar al-Islami, which once was the main Internet public relations mouthpiece of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq who was killed last month.

The three men maintained their innocence during their trial over the past few months. This week, however, they changed their pleas to guilty. They were sentenced Thursday to prison terms ranging from 6 1/2 to 10 years.

According to documents gathered by law enforcement officials, the three men used stolen credit card numbers at hundreds of online stores to buy items that fellow jihadists might need in the field. Authorities also say the men laundered money from stolen credit card accounts through more than a dozen online gambling sites.

Two law enforcement officials involved in the investigation provided information about the British case on the condition of anonymity out of concern that speaking on the record might jeopardize current investigations.

Investigators zeroed in on the three British residents in October 2005, following a tip from Bosnian authorities who also were investigating terrorism. British authorities raided Tsouli's basement apartment in West London. He was reportedly arrested while logged on to the Web site ``'' using the online identity ``IRH007.''

It wasn't until weeks after his arrest that U.S. and British police learned that Tsouli was the person previously known to counterterrorism officials only as ``Irhabi007.'' As Irhabi--``terrorist'' in Arabic--Tsouli was thought to have hacked into dozens of Web sites to host huge computer files, mostly videos of beheadings and suicide bombings recorded in Iraq. Irhabi007 also spent a great deal of time creating and disseminating tutorials on hacking and hiding identities online.

Investigators said Tsouli later began using stolen credit card numbers and identities to buy Web hosting services. According to data gathered by U.S. officials, Tsouli and his two associates used at least 72 stolen credit card accounts to register more than 180 domains at 95 different Web hosting companies in the United States and Europe.

Rita Katz, director and co-founder of the SITE Institute, which gathers information on jihadist activity by monitoring online forums, said the evidence unearthed from items seized from Tsouli's arrest revealed that he had helped to create an online network used by jihadist cells across the world to exchange information, recruit members and plan attacks.

On Tsouli's laptop, authorities said, they found a folder named ``Washington'' that contained short video clips of the U.S. Capitol grounds, the World Bank building, a hazardous chemical response vehicle and local fuel storage facilities. Also on the laptop were instant message chat logs and a PowerPoint presentation detailing how to build a car bomb.

On a computer seized from al-Daour's West London apartment, investigators said they found 37,000 stolen credit card numbers. Alongside each credit card record was other information, such as the account holders' addresses, dates of birth, credit balances and credit limits.

Investigators said al-Daour and his compatriots made more than $3.5 million in fraudulent charges using credit card accounts they stole via phishing scams and the distribution of Trojan horses--computer programs embedded in innocent-looking e-mail messages or Web sites that give criminals control over infected computers.

Spence, the New Jersey woman whose information was among the data seized from the men, said thieves made $2,000 in fraudulent charges to her account, all at a business based in Portugal. ``I'm just mortified to think that my stolen information had any type of connection with terrorism,'' Spence said.

Authorities said both al-Daour and Mughal compiled shopping lists for items that fellow jihadists might need for their battle against U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, including global positioning satellite devices, night-vision goggles, sleeping bags, telephones, survival knives and tents. Records show the men purchased other operational resources, including hundreds of prepaid cellphones, and more than 250 airline tickets using 110 different credit cards at 46 airlines and travel agencies.

Al-Daour also allegedly laundered money through online gambling sites, using accounts set up with stolen credit card numbers and victims' identities, and ran up thousand-dollar tabs at such sites as,,,,, and Al-Daour and other members of the group conducted 350 transactions at 43 different online wagering sites, using more than 130 compromised credit card accounts. Winnings were withdrawn and transferred to online bank accounts the men controlled.

Investigators in the United States and abroad spent hundreds of hours tracking the financial activities of the three men across thousands of merchants in more than a dozen countries. The case against them relied on evidence that they had incited others to commit terrorist acts, rather than evidence of cyber-crime. But one investigator who worked on the case said the story of how the three men funded their operations is an indicator of methods that other terrorist cells either have already adopted or are likely to.

If Tsouli helped pioneer a number of methods for the jihadist forums, jihadist groups have since moved their Internet operations further underground. Experts said most of the major forums have consolidated their operations into small number of password-protected forums known as the Al Fajr Center.

Still, Katz said, Irhabi's legacy lives. His hacking and anonymity tutorials are widely traded on jihadist forums, and variations on Irhabi--such as Irhabi008 and Irhabi009--remain some of the most popular screen names on those sites.

Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Loading Bars
Brazilian healthcare watchdog declines request for emergency use of Sputnik V vaccine
SOCAR bonds will again bring their owners $1.25 million
Turkey's investments in natural gas supply reach $3B in 18 years
EU would like new EPCA to enhance bilateral relations in Central Asia
Georgia to get first part of Covid vaccine in one month
AEOI issues statement in response to E3
Kazakhstan reports almost 1,000 new COVID-19 cases
U.S. state capitals, Washington on alert for possible pro-Trump armed protests
Argentina confirms first case of new variant of coronavirus
Frankfurt airport terminal shut down over man threatening police
Azerbaijani districts to be digitalized within Smart City project
G7 summit to take place in UK’s Cornwall in June
Volume of essential products available in Iranian ports revealed
France's COVID-19 death toll tops 70,000
Fires in central Chile consume over 3,200 hectares
2 IS militants killed, 6 arrested in Iraq
Iran's Bahar Azadi gold coin price continues to fall
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on January 18
President Ilham Aliyev calls President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
WHO reports over 688,000 new daily cases of COVID-19
Tunisian PM appoints new ministers in sweeping cabinet reshuffle
Azerbaijani gymnasts awarded the title of "Honorary Master of Sports"
Thousands march in Vienna against coronavirus restrictions
Uzbekistan's Bukhara oil refinery starts production of RON-95 gasoline under QuWatt brand
Iran's SPGC reveals processing data of its first refinery
Kazakhstan, Greece boost trade turnover year-on-year
Building materials price hikes may increase cost of projects in Georgia
Serbia receives 1 mln Sinopharm vaccines from China
Iran's Rasht-Caspian railway to stimulate development of production
Over 110,000 health workers receive COVID-19 vaccine shots in Istanbul
7 killed in helicopter crash in southern Philippines
New footage from Azerbaijani Aghdam district's Shelli village issued (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Azerbaijan confirms 650 more COVID-19 recoveries
Buy/sell operations at Iran Mercantile Exchange soar
Georgian plans to vaccinate 60% of its population
Turkmenistan's MFA holds briefing dedicated to commissioning of infrastructure facilities (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan reports big increase in revenues from transporting cargo by air
Preliminary cost of building pharmaceutical cluster in Tashkent revealed
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for January 16
Member of Turkey's coronavirus board assures efficacy of CoronaVac
Azerbaijan shares footage from Mirzajamally village of Fuzuli district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Summary of Operational Headquarters' amendments to quarantine regime in Azerbaijan
Azercell’s Mobile Eye and Mobile Dental Clinics provided free medical service to the hundreds of residents in 2020! (PHOTO)
Nepal approves emergency use of Covishield vaccine manufactured in India
COVID-19 infection rate falling in Azerbaijan - TABIB
Georgia reveals number of COVID-19 cases for Jan.16
Iran's trade turnover with Turkmenistan decreases
Japan interested in creation JVs in Uzbekistan in production and services spheres
Details of agricultural products exported to Iraq via Iran's Mehran customs announced
Turkmenistan's Main State Service opens tender for equipment purchase
Participation in funeral to be permitted via Azerbaijani Interior Ministry's Call Center
Toughened quarantine in Azerbaijan turned out to be effective - President's assistant
Vaccination of people aged over 65 to begin on Feb. 1 - Azerbaijani president's assistant
Storage facilities for COVID-19 vaccines being created in Azerbaijan's Shusha
Nepal requests India for early provision of COVID-19 vaccines
S Jaishankar attends sixth meeting of India-Nepal Joint Commission
At 18 million, India has largest diaspora in the world: UN
Azerbaijan to purchase vaccines via Fund for Combating COVID-19
Baku subway, public transport not to work on weekends until quarantine ends
Azerbaijan reveals volume of imported Chinese Sinovac vaccine
Azerbaijan shares footage from liberated Hajikand village of Kalbajar (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Operational Headquarters of Azerbaijan talks international, domestic flights
Prime Minister Modi Launches pan India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive
GM to invest C$1 billion in Canada plant to manufacture electric vans
Azerbaijan to start vaccination from COVID-19 - Operational Headquarters
Barbershops and beauty salons in Azerbaijan to start working soon
Kazakhstan sees decrease in exports to EAEU countries
Review of transactions in national currency at Turkmen exchange for Dec. 2020
Total amount of transactions on Turkmen Commodity Exchange for Dec. 2020
Iran's companies can offer technical services in Azerbaijan's Karabakh
Azerbaijan to resume activity of shopping centers, museums, barbershops
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for January 16
Ban on entry-exit to some cities, regions of Azerbaijan remains in force
Azerbaijan makes wearing face masks mandatory both indoor, outdoor
Public catering facilities in Azerbaijan to resume activity soon
Aftershock rocks Indonesia quake zone as search continues
Kazakhstan's coal extracting venture to transformer substations via tender
Azerbaijan softens toughened quarantine regime
Turkmenistan, IBRD sign protocol of negotiations on COVID-19 response draft
Azerbaijan cancels SMS-permissions for leaving homes due to COVID-19
Iranian currency rates for January 16
Iran expects balance in foreign currency rates
Azerbaijan's import of grain from Russia's Stavropol for 2020 revealed
Mass inoculation of Russians against coronavirus to begin on January 18
Indonesia quake kills at least 42, injures hundreds
U.S. Health Secretary Azar condemns Capitol violence in resignation letter
UzAuto Motors doubles cars production volume in 2020
France's coronavirus death toll approaches 70,000
Over 600,000 have received Sinovac shots in Turkey's vaccination program
5.4-magnitude quake jolts southern Iran
Hotel occupancy increases in all Georgian regions
Trump directs government to minimize procurement from China
WhatsApp to delay launch of update business features after privacy backlash
Brazil reports more than 1,000 COVID deaths for fourth consecutive day
Number of COVID-2019 cases across globe up by over 709,000 in past day
UN chief calls for "far greater solidarity" in message on 2 millionth COVID-19 death
Money transfers to Georgia up in December 2020
WHO advises against proof of COVID-19 vaccination for int'l travel
BMW to recall 21,693 cars in Russia
All news