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Interpol Head: Extremist Websites "Skyrocketing"

The chief of the European intelligence agency Interpol says the "skyrocketing" number of extremist websites is making it easier for terrorists to recruit middle class youth around the world.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble says terrorist recruiters are exploiting the Web to target vulnerable young people who are "not on the radar of law enforcement."

He says fighting this kind of terrorist recruitment is especially difficult because viewing websites is not necessarily criminal.

Noble said the number of extremist websites tracked by police was 12 in 1998 and 4,500 in 2006.

"Recent attacks on jihadi forums have shown that security services are getting better at taking blogs off the Web, but they still can't stop jihadis from taking advantage of the Internet, as they always have," said CBS News' Khaled Wassef, who monitors jihadi Web content for CBS News in London. "I don't think that the trend now is to increase jihadi presence on the superhighway, but there might well be a slight shift in the use of the internet, from a propaganda platform into a more functional tool for recruitment and training."

Noble spoke Tuesday at a closed-door conference of world police chiefs in Paris. Interpol released his comments in a statement.

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