The Null Device
While the spooks have their hands full keeping tabs on a terrifying proliferation of terrorists and extremists, they apparently have some help from a shadowy unofficial organisation named Vigil, comprised of retired intelligence personnel, amateur sleuths and other interested parties:
The group's director Dominic Whiteman said he set up Vigil with two other businessmen last year to act as an interface between retired spies who were still party to good, raw intelligence, and the police and security services. "This evidence was just getting lost in the system," Whiteman said in a telephone interview.
Sixty per cent of Vigil's work involves gaining information via the internet, by infiltrating online chatrooms, while the remainder is face-to-face or telephone work. The information gleaned is passed on to authorities like the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York Intelligence Unit and British police's Counter Terrorism Command (CTC).
A CTC spokeswoman said the group was treated seriously.
One member of Vigil is credited with helping bring about the conviction of cleric Hamza, jailed in London in February for inciting racial hatred and soliciting murder, and wanted in the United States on terrorism charges.The same article contains this factoid:
Whiteman said a very trusted contact who had a "key security role in the UK" had revealed that 70 per cent of information given in a daily briefing to President Bush by US intelligence chief John Negroponte centred on the British capital.Which is sobering, assuming that you take the article's claims at face value. It could be true, or it could be fantasy. Neither would surprise me.