The Web as Weapon [pdf] (third in a series; #1 - Terrorists Turn to the Web as Base of Operations [pdf]; #2 - Briton Used Internet As His Bully Pulpit [pdf])
[Zarqawi's] negotiations with Osama bin Laden over joining forces with al Qaeda were conducted openly on the Internet. When he was almost captured recently, he left behind not a Kalashnikov assault rifle, the traditional weapon of the guerrilla leader, but a laptop computer. An entire online network of Zarqawi supporters serves as backup for his insurgent group in Iraq, providing easily accessible advice on the best routes into the country, trading information down to the names of mosques in Syria that can host a would-be fighter, and eagerly awaiting the latest posting from the man designated as Zarqawi’s only official spokesman.
“The technology of the Internet facilitated everything,” declared a posting this spring by the Global Islamic Media Front, which often distributes Zarqawi messages on the Internet. Today’s Web sites are “the way for everybody in the whole world to listen to the mujaheddin.”
Little more than a year ago, this online empire did not exist. Zarqawi was an Internet nonentity, a relatively obscure Jordanian who was one of many competing leaders of the Iraq insurgency. Once every few days, a communique appeared from him on the Web. Today, Zarqawi is an international name “of enormous symbolic importance,” as Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus put it in a recent interview, on a par with bin Laden largely because of his group’s proficiency at publicizing him on the Internet.
See also a transcript of an online Q&A at the Post, and this blog entry from the CounterTerrorism Blog.