Europol searches the web for terror manuals

EU police agency Europol is co-ordinating a pan-European web monitoring operation targeting the operations of terrorist group al-Qaeda. The EU member states will jointly monitor new media material and web communications, EU ambassadors said.

The idea has come from Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU. It will organise co-operation on web surveillance, while Europol will create a way for forces to exchange the information gleaned from website monitoring.

"Terrorists use the internet to radicalise, recruit, and train potential terrorists and to transfer information," said a draft proposal on how co-operation will work. "So-called terror manuals provide instructions on how to produce weapons, how to carry out attacks, how to take hostages and how to build bombs, among other things. In the face of the global availability of the internet, this is especially worrying."

Justice and home affairs ministers will be asked to approve the draft in June.

The plan involves paying particular attention to analysis of material from as-Sahab, which is described in the draft as al-Qaeda's media department. As-Sahab is behind many of the statements from al-Qaeda leaders.

The co-operation is necessary because terrorist groups are becoming increasingly adept at using new media technologies both for communication and for propaganda, the draft said.

"The internet use plays a significant role in the logistic, operational and communication network of terrorist organisations," it said. "Terrorists use the internet not only as a means to communicate and spread propaganda, but also to radicalize, recruit and train terrorists, to spread instructions on how to carry out concrete offences and to transfer information, as well as for terrorist financing purposes."