The global terrorism network known as Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups have been using the Internet to spread their propaganda for years, according to the head of a UK-based security consultancy.
The revelations come after the US Government accused Al Qaeda of working with Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) to launch the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York City in September 2001.
Al Qaeda has also been behind a number of plots to attack US embassies and US targets in the Middle East.
The Guardian has obtained documents obtained by the group in 2014 that show Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) were also involved in a plot to blow up a Russian airliner.
The group has been linked to a number different plots including the attacks on the British parliament in 2002, the Millennium Dome shopping centre in 2005, the Manchester Arena stadium in 2006, the Sydney Opera House in 2008, the London Eye in 2010, the Russian consulate in London in 2012, and the US Capitol in 2013.
The documents, obtained by WikiLeaks, show Al Qaida was “very active” in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s, using the Web to plot attacks against US interests.
One document, obtained from an internal AQI email, showed a man in Yemen had told AQI officials about the need to plot an attack in London on a Christmas Day.
The next day, the email showed, “two men with AQI links have arrived in Yemen and are waiting for a plane to take them to London.
One of them is a man who spoke very good English.””
They are carrying a large quantity of explosives and are also in possession of a large amount of money.””
We will go and pick them up.””
If we don’t get the bombs in the morning they will kill all the tourists at the Palace of Westminster,” the document continued.
The US Government said in a statement that the plot was thwarted by the British and US authorities.
The UK government’s Home Affairs Select Committee has also criticised the Government for failing to prevent the plot, saying: “The plotters had the capability to strike at a large number of targets in a short time, using sophisticated technology to launch a large scale attack against targets all over the United Kingdom and the world.”
It was only through the vigilance of British intelligence that they were thwarted.
“In its report on the attacks, the Government said it had thwarted a plot involving the group Al Qaeda.
The report found the plot involved four “foreign fighters” who had travelled to Syria to join Al Qaeda there.
The government said the men had been recruited through the internet, but did not specify how.
The Government said the plot had been “maintainable” but said it would “not be complacent”.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqip) and Al Qaeda’s North Africa branch, AQAP, are two of the groups linked to the attack.
In the years since the attacks it has also taken responsibility for several other terror attacks, including the 2003 Boston Marathon bombing and the 2012 Mumbai attacks in India.
In 2014, AQP, a branch of Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian passenger plane that killed 224 people.
The terror group is also linked to other attacks, and in 2014 it claimed responsibility in Pakistan for the attack at a US military base.
The Government has said the terror network is responsible for a number attacks.
The attacks were carried out by people who had been radicalised in Syria, Yemen and other parts of the Middle Eastern region.
The FBI has said it is working with a number European countries to investigate possible links between the two groups.