The Brit terror treasure trove

Stratfor/HNN:

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The charges, CPS officials said, are based on evidence collected during raids at 69 locations throughout the United Kingdom. The huge amount of information netted during the raids could lead investigators to other suspects in the scheme, or to other militant plots -- although the long delay in analyzing all the data could allow some suspects to slip away.

Authorities, who would have confiscated everything found on the premises at each location, hauled in more than 400 computers, 200 cell phones, electrical components and approximately 8,000 other items of computer media, including memory sticks, compact discs and digital video discs. Also recovered were bombmaking manuals and materials such as hydrogen peroxide, as well as a number of what CPS has described as "martyrdom videos." In all, it appears the British recovered more than 6,000 gigabytes worth of data.

The ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to collect intelligence, however, often long exceeds their capacity to analyze it. In this case, the massive amount of information cannot possibly be processed expeditiously. Hard drives containing information such as e-mail addresses, sent messages and Internet sites visited must be thoroughly analyzed on the chance that the information can lead investigators to other people involved in the airliner plot, or perhaps different plots. With this information in hand, authorities can surveil the new suspects, possibly leading them to even more potential suspects.

This will put a strain on British and U.S. investigators who are trying to sift through an already expansive amount of intelligence data. In addition, much of the intelligence gained from the raids is perishable, meaning it must be acted on quickly before other potential suspects realize their identities have been compromised and disappear underground.

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This explains in part why every law enforcement agency in the UK has been working on the case. Recent reports suggest they are still finding evidence as they continue their search. When it comes to prosecuting the cases the martyr videos should be as good as a confession of the plot. However, the real value is in the treasure trove is that it will lead them to other members and contacts of the organization which could lead to more arrests and more plots uncovered.

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