Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
If you can't catch terrorists, then the next best thing seems to be snatching their laptop computers. And as luck would have it, they're just as sloppy about protecting their sensitive personal information as the rest of us.
At least that appears to have been the case when U.S. military forces came surprisingly close to catching the terrorist mastermind of al Qaeda in Iraq, the Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
On Feb. 20, the Pentagon says al-Zarqawi was in a truck heading from Fallujah to a meeting in Ramadi when U.S. forces pulled over one of the vehicles in his convoy. Another truck in the group turned around and sped away. When they finally caught up to that truck, Al-Zarqawi was gone, but he had left his laptop in the car. And what they found on it says some hopeful things about our chances of ultimately rooting out and capturing the bad guys.
It turns out that terrorists are just as lazy about protecting their data as your average PC owner. There were, according to news reports, recent digital pictures, apparently of al-Zarqawi, tucked away in the "My Pictures" folder common to PCs running Microsoft's Windows.
Reports have varied about the information found on the computer. Reportedly, among the nuggets are names and addresses of friendly contacts, information about al-Zarqawi's medical condition and, possibly, financial information. All of this is valuable, and reduces the number of rocks under which the lowlife can safely hide.
It's not the first time a computer used by a terrorist leader has wound up in official U.S. hands.