Cellphone Chips Helped Track Global Terror Web

(New York Times) Don Van Natta Jr. and Desmond Butler - For two years, investigators were able to track the conversations and movements of several al-Qaeda leaders and dozens of operatives after determining that the suspects favored a particular brand of cellphone chip. Swisscom once sold Subscriber Identity Module cards that connect cellphones to networks without asking buyers for identification, making its cards a favorite with terrorists. But investigators were able to match the numbers with terror suspects and track some down in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and several European countries. In 2002, German authorities monitored calls by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been linked to al-Qaeda, in which he could be heard ordering attacks on Jewish targets in Germany. Terrorists have now largely abandoned cellphones and instead use e-mail, Internet phone calls, and hand-delivered messages.

2004-03-04 00:00:00

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