Tony Romm
The Hill
March 12, 2010

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The Internet allowed extremists to contact, recruit, train and equip the suspect responsible for the attempted Flight 253 bombing on Christmas Day “within weeks,” a top Pentagon official told lawmakers Wednesday.

That relatively brief timeframe only speaks to how quickly extremist groups have “optimized” the Web and developed a “highly evolved” process by which to develop terrorist networks, added Garry Reid, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism.

“Enabled by 21st-century technology, extremists have optimized the use of Internet chat rooms, Web sites and e-mail chains to spread their virulent messages and reach a global audience of potential recruits,” Reid told the Senate Armed Services Committee in prepared testimony.

“It is this highly evolved radicalization process that enabled al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to make contact with a wealthy Nigerian student living in London, recruit, train and equip him in the remote tribal regions of Yemen, position him in the Netherlands and ultimately dispatch him on a suicide mission to the United States, all within a period of weeks,” Reid added.

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