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Internet aids terrorist recruiting, radicalization, Pentagon says

Militant and terrorist groups are using the Internet to streamline their terrorist recruiting, radicalization, and training. The man who allegedly attempted to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day was contacted, recruited, and trained in just six weeks, officials say.

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This image made available by IntelCenter and taken from a Web site frequently used by militants to disseminate their messages, purports to show Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the known as the 'Christmas Day Bomber'.

IntelCenter/AP

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Militant groups can radicalize individuals and train them to carry out terrorist acts much more quickly today, in part thanks to the Internet, according to military and counter terrorism experts testifying on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

Militant groups and some individuals have “maximized” the use of technologies such as the Internet. Government officials say the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly attempted to blow up an American airliner in Detroit on Christmas Day, points to just how fast groups can radicalize an individual. Mr. Abdulmutallab was identified, contacted, recruited, and trained all within six weeks, according to a Pentagon counterterrorism official. That’s much faster than the two and a half years it took for Osama bin Laden to hatch the plan to attack the US nine years ago. While the two plans vary widely in scope, the faster time frame indicates how adaptive radicalized groups and individuals have become, say experts.

“They have really improved their ability to radicalize people and bring them into the fight, which of course severely hampers our ability to disrupt and get ourselves involved in the process,” said Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of Defense, in testimony before a Senate panel Wednesday.

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