PARIS (Reuters) - Al Qaeda has turned the Internet into a virtual classroom for its supporters around the world after U.S. troops drove Osama bin Laden's followers from training bases in Afghanistan, security experts say.
The Internet played a key role in al Qaeda's planning and coordinating for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. landmarks. In the years since, the Web has taken on an even greater role in recruiting, spreading fear and propaganda, and executing attacks, according to the security experts.
"The Internet is even more dangerous than it was in the past," said Rita Katz, director of the SITE Institute, in a telephone interview from Washington.
"Whatever you had in Afghanistan in the training camps, you have today on the Internet," said Katz, whose nonprofit organization tracks militant Islamic sites and counts the U.S. government and major U.S. corporations among its clients.
"Some of the manuals (posted on the Web) are the actual manuals from Afghanistan ... some written by Saif al-Adel, one of the most wanted military commanders of (Al Qaeda) who has not been captured. He's on the FBI most-wanted list," she said.
A recent posting detailed how to use a mobile phone in a bomb attack, a method used to kill 191 people in March in coordinated blasts on Madrid commuter trains.
"It was step-by-step, and to make sure you get the picture they had a video to demonstrate it. It's scary," Katz said.