- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

In the past nine days, the Internet has provided news, information and a sense of community to those who find solace in cyberspace.
E-mail, electronic greeting cards, bulletin boards and chat rooms were an immediate and effective panacea to the continuing instinct to check up on far-flung friends and family.
The global village has a photo album as well. Touching scenes from prayer vigils, rescue scenes and patriotic moments were the mainstay in several "bundles" of photographs that were widely circulated around the Internet.
There is a darker side as well.
The Internet also harbors a number of "jihad Web rings" that link Web sites sympathetic to a variety of terrorist causes. With unsettling irony, some feature pop-up ads for airlines, dating services, travel agents and shopping malls, among other merchandisers.
Internet providers are scurrying to shut down sites in violation of service policies that prohibit the promotion of violence. "Unwitting advertisers," according to Reuters news agency, are pulling their notices from the offending sites.
The Web presents other complexities.
In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, hundreds of new Internet domain names were registered containing "references to the terrorist attacks," notes Cybercast News Service.
But according to Neal Livingstone of Global Options, a D.C.-based counterterrorism and investigative group, 22 of these names may have been registered by those terrorists who planned and executed last Tuesday's siege on New York and Washington.
The disturbing names include "attackontwintowers.com," "worldtradetowerattack.com," "horrorinnewyork.com" and "pearlharborinmanhattan.com." Some were registered as far back as June 2000.
Three of the names contained dates: "august11horror.com," "august11terror.com" and "worldtradecenter929.com"
Mr. Livingstone, whose company provides Internet risk analysis for corporate clients, said an Internet domain-registration company had notified him about these suspicious name registrations because "the FBI had not been interested in the information."
Domain registration requires a credit card, billing address and other data that could benefit investigators following the paper trail of terrorists on these shores and beyond. The information, however, is not readily forthcoming. Companies that provide these domain names have strict privacy policies.
"We will not share such information with other third parties, except in response to formal requests (e.g. subpoenas or court orders) made in connection with litigation or arbitration proceedings," notes the privacy statement for Network Solutions, which is the world's largest registrar of domain names.
Mr. Livingstone would not reveal the source of his information and does not know the identity of those who registered the names. The names, he surmised, might be part of a greater propaganda campaign that never reached fruition.

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