Home Office calls for clampdown on cyber terrorists

The Home Office is to outline government plans that would increase the responsibility of internet service providers to clamp down on websites promoting religious extremism and terrorist activities.

The plans, which were outlined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith on BBC Radio 4, will be discussed with internet service providers and companies in the communications sector on how they can eradicate extremist websites that groom individuals to join Al-Qaeda and carry out terrorist acts.

Smith said there was "growing evidence" that the internet was being used by extremist groups to "spread messages and to plan specifically for terrorism" that the communications industry needed to address.

It is understood the Home Secretary plans to meet ISPs and members of the Muslim community to find ways of blocking websites that encourage terrorist activity.

She said: "There is growing evidence people may be using the internet both to spread messages and to plan specifically for terrorism. That is why, as well as changing the law to make sure we can tackle that, there is more we need to do to show the internet is not a no-go area as far as tackling terrorism is concerned.

"We need to work with internet service providers... to use some of the lessons we have learnt about how to protect children from paedophiles and grooming on the internet. We need to use it to inform the way we prevent violent extremism and tackle terrorism as well."

To highlight the issue of cyber terrorism, the case of one of Al-Qaeda's most influential cyber-terrorists was highlighted yesterday. Younis Tsouli used the web to distribute images of beheadings and jihadist propaganda.

Tsouli was jailed in October alongside Waseem Mughal and Tariq al-Daour. The trio are the first people in the UK to be prosecuted for incitement of terrorist murder using the internet.

Tsouli, who was jailed for 10 years, used the internet name "irhaby007" -- translated as "terrorist007". He was responsible for updating the websites, and for the setting up and administration of a chat room forum, used by supporters of Al-Qaeda, from which explosives and weapons manuals could be downloaded.

Peter Clarke, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said: "These three men, by their own admission, were encouraging others to become terrorists and murder innocent people. This is the first successful prosecution for inciting murder using the internet, showing yet again that terrorist networks are spanning the globe.

"Detectives were faced with an enormous challenge -- to decode and decipher a staggering quantity of computer data and websites. They should be justly proud of their efforts in this case."

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