Taliban website used US host, says Washington Post

April 9th, 2009 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, April 9 (IANS) A Taliban website used a US-based host for over a year to boast of attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan before the deception was uncovered and the account was pulled out, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The Houston-based web-hosting outfit said it simply rented cyberspace to the account holder and had no clue about its Taliban connections.

For more than a year, the militant group used the site, claiming to be the voice of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”, to rally its followers and keep a running tally of suicide bombings, rocket attacks and raids against the US and allied troops. The cost of the service: roughly $70 a month, payable by credit card, the newspaper said.

The Taliban’s account was pulled last week when a blogger noticed the connection and called attention to it, the Post said.

However, the odd pairing of violently anti-American extremists and US technology companies continues elsewhere and appears to be growing, it added.

Intelligence officials and private experts cite dozens of instances in which Islamist militants sought out US internet firms - known for their reliable service and easy terms that allow virtual anonymity - and used these to incite attacks on Americans.

In some cases, the complaints come from governments.

Pakistan has been complaining to US officials about militants’ use of North American internet services since late last year, when investigations into the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, which involved Pakistanis, revealed that the attackers had communicated using Internet phone calls routed through another server based in Houston.

The newspaper quoted US and Pakistani officials as saying the issue had raised tensions within diplomatic and intelligence circles in both countries and had reignited a high-level internal debate over the legality and efficacy of shutting off or restricting access to such services.

A senior Pakistani official said repeated requests to Washington to shut down controversial sites have gone unheeded and that the seeming reluctance of US authorities had become “an irritant.”

The official said Pakistani intelligence experts are convinced that Washington prefers to keep the sites running for intelligence purposes.

Under the federal eavesdropping laws passed last year, US intelligence officials can legally monitor communications between foreign groups without a warrant, even if the transit lines pass through the United States.

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