Bill Warner, an investigator from Sarasota, Fla., who tried to shut down a number of Web sites linked to extremist groups, said he first targeted an al-Shabaab Web site in May 2008 after the U.S. government labeled it a terrorist organization.
Dotster Inc. of Vancouver, Wash., took the Web site down in January 2009, Warner said, after an order from the federal government. Warner said he has run a detective agency for 15 years and has been trying to shut down terrorist Web sites -- on his own time without pay -- since 2003.
When watching an April 2007 al-Shabaab Web posting, he said, he was particularly intrigued by one of the men on the Web site, a fair-skinned man, who stood apart from the Somali fighters.
That man went by the name Abu Mansour al-Amriki. Fox News reported last week that his true identity is Omar Hammami and that he faces a secret indictment in Mobile's federal court on a charge of providing material support to terrorists. Hammami, 25, attended Daphne High School and the University of South Alabama.
Warner said news reports of Hammami's past as a computer science student confirmed his suspicions that al-Amriki had provided technical assistance to al-Shabaab. "At that time, I suspected he was involved with setting up the Web site," he said. "It appears Omar, with his background, is the perfect guy to set this up for them."
Rick Schwein, the assistant special agent in charge of counter-terrorism efforts at the Mobile office of the FBI, said he could not comment on a specific case. In general, he said, the bureau works within the constraints of the law to take down Web sites that lure recruits and coordinate terrorist activity. "It's something that is of great concern to us," he said.
Warner said federal investigators often do not want to tip their hand by moving on a Web site before they have mined it for intelligence. Foreign terrorist groups prefer to use American Web-hosting companies because the larger bandwidth they use allows higher-quality video postings.
Newspapers in Phoenix and Tampa, Fla., reported that Web hosting companies in their cities took down jihadist Web sites after Warner pointed them out in early 2008.
“The Arizona Republic Al-Qaida Web site was hosted in Phoenix. Bill Warner, a Sarasota, Fla., private investigator who has worked with federal agencies on terrorist-related issues, has been tracking terrorist-related Web sites for months.
Web Sleuth Tracks Another Jihadist Site To Tampa Host For the third time in a month, Sarasota-based private investigator Bill Warner has tracked to a Tampa hosting company what investigators call a significant Web site used by jihadists for communications, recruitment and fundraising.
But officials at Dotster which hosted the al-Shabaab site at www.kataaib.net , and the local newspaper "The Columbian" initially resisted Warner's efforts, he said.
“The Columbian Newspaper Dotster under fire for Web content.” Florida resident Bill Warner, who describes himself as an anti-terrorist vigilante, is among a collection of online activists who want to use public pressure on Dotster to get www.kataaib.net shut down.
Al-Shabaab links to Al-Qaeda Were Published Wednesday 5/07/2008 in Columbian Newspaper, IN OUR VIEW: INTERNET CENSOR BILL WARNER. Bill Warner, a Sarasota private investigator ( http://www.wbipi.com/ ), wants Dotster Inc. of Vancouver to refuse service to http://www.kataaib.net/ . Warner, who has launched similar purge efforts in other cities with other Internet companies, says http://www.kataaib.net/ supports an al-Qaida organization in Somalia, where war and genocide are tragic facts of daily life.
Dotster representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The company told the newspaper in Vancouver last year that its passes along all complaints to law enforcement agencies but does not censor customers' content. "We are not in a position to judge and be a jury on what content may be legal or acceptable," Brian Unruh, the firm's chief financial officer, told the newspaper.
Warner said the al-Shabaab site clearly crossed the line. And while the message was in Somali, he said, a mirror site run by a man in the United Kingdom had an English-language version. "It was blatantly recruiting suicide bombers," he said, more from this source.
Bill Warner Director of CSPI..Covert Surveillance by Private Investigators at WBI Inc.