In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, alleged al-Qaeda operations mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed intended to use his free Hotmail account to direct a US-based operative to carry out an attack, according to a guilty plea agreement filed by Al Saleh Kahlah al-Marri in federal court. The document shows how al-Qaida embraced prosaic technologies like pre-paid calling cards, public phones, and search engines to carry out operations.
Al-Marri stored phone numbers of al-Qaeda associates in a PDA, altering them with a simple code. He also surfed the Internet to research cyanide gas, using software to cover his tracks. He marked the locations of dams, waterways, and tunnels in the United States in an almanac. The government claims this reflects intelligence that al-Qaida was planning to use cyanide gas to attack those sites.