Net is terror training tool - US security chief

'Combination of hatred and technical skills'

The internet is a dangerous tool of radical ideologies, according to the US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. He said that last summer's attacks on London was an example of a domestic terrorist threat in action.

Speaking to the International Association of the Chiefs of Police, Chertoff said that the internet is a vital tool for people training to make terrorist attacks, according to the Reuters news agency.

"We now have a capability of someone to radicalise themselves over the internet," Chertoff said. "They can train themselves over the internet; they never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else."

US President George Bush's government is conducting a wiretap programme gathering information about US residents' phone and internet use without court-issued warrants. The programme is the subject of several law suits, some of which claim that wiretap activity without warrants is illegal.

In August a judge in Michigan ruled that the programme was illegal and halted it, but the Bush government won an appeal which allows it to continue the programme while an appeal on the whole case is pending.

Chertoff's claims about the use of the internet within the US appear to back the wiretap programme. "The diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination," he said. "Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites."

Chertoff used last summer's attacks in London as an example of a domestic terrorist threat and said that his department would send 20 field agents into the US to work with local police forces to combat domestic terrorism.

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