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Rebels with a Server

Contacting elusive rebel factions was once something for reporters to boast about at the hotel bar. Not anymore. Rebel press offices have gone digital — building Web sites, e-mail lists, and even online chat rooms. Want to know what Darfur rebels are thinking? Check the latest communiqués on the Justice and Equality Movement’s home page. ...

Contacting elusive rebel factions was once something for reporters to boast about at the hotel bar. Not anymore. Rebel press offices have gone digital — building Web sites, e-mail lists, and even online chat rooms. Want to know what Darfur rebels are thinking? Check the latest communiqués on the Justice and Equality Movement’s home page. The photo gallery of Chad’s Union of Forces for Change and Democracy depicts sunglasses-clad rebel leaders brandishing their AK-47s — but please respect the copyright notice at the bottom of the page.

Today’s rebel groups use the Internet to broadcast their grievances the world over, and sometimes even move markets. The Nigerian Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), for instance, adroitly manipulates oil prices through colorful e-mail blasts. Many of these illicit press offices far outpace their government rivals. MEND responds within hours to e-mailed queries. But the commission charged with developing the Niger region? Good luck finding contact info on its Web site.

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