SHANNEN ROSSMILLER lives in a little town in Montana. She has a good job. But in her spare time she visits chat rooms and tries to befriend potential terrorists. One of her discoveries led to the arrest of Ryan Anderson, an American National Guard soldier (and Muslim convert) who was about to be deployed in Iraq. He was willing to reveal American troop vulnerabilities to Rossmiller, who Anderson believed was a fellow militant Muslim (an Islamist).
Many cases have been cracked or aided by regular everyday citizens who want to do something about terrorism. What started out as a group of unrelated individuals trying to do something has organized itself into the 7Seas web site, a "global security and intelligence team." And they have a track record of successes.
FBI spokesman Bob Wright said, "We've always relied on our good relationship with citizens as our eyes and ears in the community. This is just a new twist on an old theme. It's sort of like a cyber Neighborhood Watch."
Because new surveillance technologies now make it difficult for terrorists to communicate via phones, they have resorted to using the internet. But 7Seas is out to disrupt this. They pretend to be fellow jihadists (or Islamists) in chat rooms and bulletin boards. They gain the confidence of terrorists, who then reveal their plans and identities. 7Seas then turns this information over to the FBI or the Department of Home Security.
Rossmiller goes by another name online. She learned the name of the nearest mosque and put a reminder on her computer when it was prayer time, all in an effort to appear to be a genuine Islamic terrorist.
Todd Stewart of the National Academic Consortium for Homeland Security said, "This is really an intriguing phenomenon. What you're seeing is people taking to heart the calls for increased vigilance."