Al-Qaida Websites Down; Cyberattack Suspected

Monday, 02 Apr 2012 01:28 PM

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Key al-Qaida websites have been dark for almost two weeks leading experts to suspect they were taken down in a cyberattack. No one has taken responsibility for bringing down the sites, The Washington Post reported.
 
The website Shumukh al-Islam went down March 22 and four others have since followed. One low level al-Qaida site posted a note that said “the media arena is witnessing a vicious attack by the cross and its helpers on the jihadi media castles,” the Post reported.

Al-Qaida websites have been used to recruit terrorists and call for attacks in the West. Sources tell the Post that U.S. government agencies had no role in the outages.

Nonetheless, Will McCants, a former State Department counterterrorism official now with the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, said “it sure looks like a takedown,” the Post reported.

British intelligence took down some al-Qaida websites in the summer of 2010. While experts differ about the value of such actions, others point out they cause confusion and distrust.

“It leaves the rank-and-file to guess which messages and which messengers are genuine al-Qaida, and provides undercover operators with new opportunities to disrupt the movement,” A. Aaron Weisburd, a senior fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, told the Post.

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