Before 9-11, I had no experience with the Middle East or the Arabic language. I was a mother of three and a municipal judge in a small town in Montana. But the terrorist attacks affected me deeply. I wondered how it could happen. What kind of people could carry out such an atrocity and why? I began to read vociferously about Islam, terrorism, extremist groups, and Islamist ideology. Some of the books satisfied; many did not.
In November 2001, I saw a news report about how terrorists and their sympathizers communicated on websites and Internet message boards and how limited government agencies were in their ability to monitor these web communications. This news report showed me how extensively Al-Qaeda used the Internet to orchestrate 9-11 and how out of touch our intelligence agencies were regarding this Internet activity. Apparently, there were not procedures in place for tracking communications and activity on the Al-Qaeda websites and Internet forums at the time.
The Internet address named in the news report was "www.alneda.com." I wrote it down and proceeded to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I entered another world when I logged on to that site for the first time. I did not know Arabic, so I clicked away at random, looking at featured pictures depicting such things as dead bodies lying around in the aftermath of a car bombing and other atrocities.
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