London, June 10 : Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama will form a crack team of cyber experts, who will track and respond aggressively to online rumours that the Illinois Senator is unpatriotic and a Muslim.
Senator Obama and his chief advisers are aware of the danger of such rumours, amid polling data showing that a significant number of Americans believe he is a Muslim or are suspicious about his background.
Such doubts were a factor in his poor showing with white, blue-collar voters during his primary battle with Senator Hillary Clinton.
In recent days, Obama has brought up the subject of the chain e-mails and blog sites making the false claims, The Times reported.
Some state that he is a radical Muslim who was sworn in as a US senator on the Quran; others that he sympathises with Palestinian radicals. Many focus on his middle name of Hussein, which was taken from his Kenyan father.
Referring to the e-mails in a speech last week to AIPAC, the powerful Jewish lobby, Senator Obama said: "They are filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for President and all I want to say is, 'Let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama because he sounds pretty scary'."
Jen Psaki, spokeswomen for Obama, told The Times that the Internet team was still being finalised.
Despite his long nomination fight against Senator Clinton, his campaign aides concede that millions of Americans still feel that they do not really know him.
Senator Obama's Kenyan father, who left the family when he was two, was a Muslim, but not particularly religious. The Illinois senator lived in Indonesia from the age of six until 10 with his white, American mother and Indonesian stepfather, who was also a Muslim.
Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, nor worshipped at a mosque. He moved from being agnostic to finding Christ in his 20s, with the help of his former Chicago pastor, the Rev Jeremiah Wright.