The case of the missing code

Friday, 19 July 2002, 3:26 AM EST

If you were a terrorist schooled in fundamentalist Islam, mass violence, digital cryptography and, not least, the pack-rat ethos peculiar to eBay, in which corner of that vast auction site might you hide your plans for America's end?

Would you favor the popular items, stuffing nuclear secrets into one of the nearly 4,000 Pez-related listings? Or would you go for something more obscure -- the date and time of al-Qaida's next operation concealed in a $3 glossy press photo from the old television sitcom "My Two Dads"? Or, displaying your flair for irony, would you conduct your terrorist business right under the kitsch-loving noses of the Americans who hate you most, those who would buy a "Boy Peeing on Osama" pickup-truck decal?

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