Islamic extremists in the UK are "one step ahead" of the government when it comes to using the internet, a think-tank has said.
A report published by the Centre for Social Cohesion today looks into how extremists have used the internet since the government's post-July 7th security crackdown.
It claims there are several websites where individuals have developed a safe haven, a 'virtual caliphate', where they can promote jihadist ideologies without fear of prosecution.
The Centre for Social Cohesion also claims that the websites in question "openly distribute and promote material justifying and promoting terrorist acts".
It is claimed that UK-based extremists use the sites to circulate texts and videos produced by al-Qaida members, communicate on discussion forums and produce and distribute material used to recruit new members.
The reports' author James Brandon said of the findings: "Recent arrests, trials and convictions have undeniably damaged the ability of UK-based jihadists to recruit, raise funds or openly spread their ideology.
"However, these extremists have now re-grouped on the internet by establishing dedicated websites to spread their ideas, communicate with each other and recruit new members.
"The internet has become a safe-haven for British-based extremists where they can operate with impunity. By failing to prosecute those who run extremist websites, the government shows that it is under-estimating the importance of the internet to Islamic extremists."
Mr Brandon claims a failure to prosecute those who run and use the controversial websites may lead to further terrorist attacks in the future.
"If the people who run these websites were distributing this extremist material on street-corners they would rightly be arrested and prosecuted. But because they do it online, the police do not feel they have to take action," he said.
"The government needs to prosecute British extremists who run pro-jihadist websites in order to show those who promote or glorify terrorism will be held accountable.
"Material promoting jihadist violence is equally potent whether distributed online or in physical format. Failure to take the online threat seriously could lead to further terrorist attacks taking place."