NEW YORK, March 6: The newly detected Internet traffic among Al Qaeda followers, including intercepted e-mail messages, indicates that elements of the terror network may be trying to regroup in remote sanctuaries in Pakistan near the Afghan border, government officials told the New York Times.
United States officials said they had discovered the existence of new Web sites and Internet communications that appeared to be a part of a concerted Al Qaeda effort to reconstitute the group and re-establish communications after the war in Afghanistan.
Senior counterterrorism officials said that Al Qaeda’s effort to rebuild itself outside Afghanistan appeared to rely heavily on the Internet for communications among highly mobile operatives, who often check their messages in public Internet cafes around the world, making them difficult to track the Times said.
The paper said that the American officials said the new communications traffic was a serious concern because they feared that Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s network, could use its sophisticated Internet ability to launch new terror attacks against the United States.
Some of the activity appeared to come from villages in Balochistan, along the Afghan border.
American officials now believe that some of these villages in Balochistan, and perhaps others in the disputed Kashmir region, could be serving as new sanctuaries for Al Qaeda members the Times said.
The content of the intercepted cyber traffic has not indicated specific threats, but one official said the purpose of the communications was troubling because it appeared to be focused on Al Qaeda’s efforts to regroup. American officials told NYT that they believed that several hundred armed Al Qaeda forces had regrouped in the Gardez region over the last several weeks, joined by non-Afghan Taliban fighters, including both Chechens and Uzbeks.
The United States military believes that there are other pockets of Al Qaeda resistance in Afghanistan as well.