Jihadi software promises secure Web contacts

Updated version of Mujahideen Secrets encryption software issued by al-Qaida-linked group touted as communications tool for militants.

An Islamist Web site often used by al-Qaida supporters carried updated encryption software on Friday that it said would help Islamic militants communicate with greater security on the Internet.

The Mujahideen Secrets 2 was promoted as "the first Islamic program for secure communications through networks with the highest technical level of encoding."

The software, available for free on the password-protected Ekhlaas.org site, which often carries al-Qaida messages, is a newer version of Mujahideen Secrets issued in early 2007 by the Global Islamic Media Front, an al-Qaida-linked Web-based group.

"This special edition of the software was developed and issued by...Ekhlaas in order to support the mujahideen (holy war fighters) in general and the (al-Qaida-linked group) Islamic State in Iraq in particular," the site said.

The efficacy of the new Arabic-language software to ensure secure e-mail and other communications could not be immediately gauged. But some security experts had warned that the wide distribution of its earlier version among Islamists and Arabic-speaking hackers could prove significant.

Al-Qaida supporters widely use the Internet to spread the group's statements through hundreds of Islamist sites where anyone can post messages. Al-Qaida-linked groups also set up their own sites, which frequently have to move after being shut by Internet service providers.

Al-Qaida's own media arm, As-Sahab, has become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. It issued 97 audio and video Web messages in 2007 compared with just 6 in 2002, according to IntelCenter, a U.S.-based group that monitors Islamist sites.

Al-Qaida and other groups have increasingly turned to the Internet to win young Muslims over to their fight against Western countries and Western-backed governments.

Story Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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