RealTime IT News

Brits Nab Cyber Terrorist

The war on cyber terrorism scored a major victory Wednesday when British authorities arrested a London man wanted in Connecticut for allegedly aiding and abetting a terrorist Web site operation.

Syed Talha Ahsan was charged with participating in a conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, including the creation and use of Web sites, e-mail and other communications assistance.

The information posted to the sites and the e-mail chain created by Ahsan allegedly passed on classified U.S. military documents and served as a fund-raising and recruiting arm of Al-Quaeda.

The 26-year-old Ahsan is also charged with providing support to terrorists consisting of expert communications advice and assistance, communications equipment, military items, currency, monetary instruments and financial services.

Although Syed Talha Ahsan was arrested in London, U.S. authorities want him extradited and tried in America because, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ), Ahsan used a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Web hosting companies in the U.S., including one in Connecticut.

Following his arrest at the request of the U.S. government, Ahsan appeared before a magistrate court in London, where he was detained pending a bail hearing scheduled for July 26.

The DoJ is preparing extradition papers. If extradited and convicted of the charges, Ahsan faces a maximum term of life in prison.

Ahsan is also charged with participating in a conspiracy to kill or injure people in a related case involving Babar Ahmad, an organization called Azzam Publications and others.

Babar Ahmad and Azzam Publications, which operates a series of Web sites sympathetic to terrorist causes, were previously charged by indictment in Connecticut in October 2004. Ahmad is fighting extradition to the U.S.

The U.S. indictment claims Ashan's material communications support was used to recruit terrorists for the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen in addition to fund raising for terrorist activities in Afghanistan and Chechnya.

In addition, the indictment claims Ahsan possessed, electronically reproduced and distributed a then-classified U.S. Navy document detailing the capabilities and terrorist vulnerabilities of a battle group operating in the Straits of Hormuz.

A task force in Connecticut is investigating this case. The task force consists of special agents from the Department of Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

Also participating in the ongoing probe are law enforcement agents from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, the IRS's Criminal Investigation Division and Electronic Crimes Program, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

"These charges are the result of several years of investigative work by ICE and FBI agents in New Haven, NCIS agents, and several additional law enforcement partners here in the United States and overseas," U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said in a statement.