Why didn't I know that Al Qaeda's websites have been down?
October 20, 2008 6:06 AM   Subscribe

I just learned that the Al Qaeda websites have been down since September 10; they deny cyber attack, but it sure looks like it. My question: where has this been reported? I'm obviously missing some important source in my daily news fix if I'm just learning about this. (link below)

Here's the link


It claims it's been "widely reported in the media" and I'm just curious which media, where.

As a bonus, I'm curious if you think this is great, or believe that open process and free speech even applies to bin Laden's videos.
posted by kestralwing to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
which media, where

Well, for instance.

The September flurry of stories has moved off Google News but you can find some via web search and blog search.
posted by beagle at 6:35 AM on October 20, 2008

Where are these Al-Qaeda websites, anyway? The news always says "According to a video on a Al-qaeda website..." but they never include a link.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:39 AM on October 20, 2008

Hey, thanks, beagle! I've put the Hindustan Times on my regular news rotation. If nothing else, it's going to be so much fun to drop it into conversations.
posted by kestralwing at 6:46 AM on October 20, 2008

I read it in the Washington Post -

Al-Qaeda Web Forums Abruptly Taken Offline
Four of the five main online forums that al-Qaeda's media wing uses to distribute statements by Osama bin Laden and other extremists have been disabled since mid-September, monitors of the Web sites say.
posted by deern the headlice at 7:32 AM on October 20, 2008

I read it in the Washington Post, too, but that story didn't appear until last week. It's possible that I missed it amid all the election and financial crisis news, but I really don't buy that it was "widely reported" until the Post picked it up.
posted by Airhen at 8:15 AM on October 20, 2008

Internet Haganah covered it on 9/14. They used to keep a public DB of the sites, separated by ideology. Here's an old link to the Hamas one. Often they were just categories within a forum on some random website where the groups would just start posting their material, using it as a PR vehicle. I assume since the category was created the sites knew about and allowed it, but you never know. As I recall, most of them were running vBulletin. See, for instance, Rusty's response to the hindustantimes article beagle posted:

"F) The reason that al Qaeda was unable to deliver its much hyped 9/11 anniversary film is as stated in the article: the forums were down. But other than that, I've no idea."

Both he and Aaron, of Internet Haganah, denied involvment (while also saying they would say that even if they were involved).

I've never seen it confirmed any place, but I think a lot of the tactics involved grew out of the Kosovo war. The Serbs had an amazing network of websites setup posting pics of children mangled by bombs and other things of the type. Half the time the injuries looked like makeup, but without a comparison point it was hard to tell for sure. One of the radio stations even had a place for residents to post to when a plane went overhead and what direction it was headed, so people in those areas would go on alert and post the results of the bombing if it happened to them. Anyway, they also had some bunkers engineered to withstand the bombing (and did... can't find links but here's one that didn't just to provide scope) and were able to shoot down a F117.

Since there was some success in the battles but not ultimately the war, it was natural for that knowledge to be spread to others. The bunker designers went to Iraq to build bunkers there using the lessons learned. I assume the knowledge transfer went beyond the bunker designers to the anti-aircraft and digital communities as well. Reports of Hamas trucking journalists around to made up scenes during the last Lebanon war seemed to be another step in the digital progression, as well as the near constant accusation that civilians were/are injured after just about every bombing. It's hard to fact check a scene that has been destroyed, so there's no idea of how much is true and how much isn't. That's a near perfect response to such an adversary, especially if they're too dumb to realize it and start countering it.

Of course, this is all conjecture. Possible glimpses behind the veil, I guess. But so was Iraq's WMDs, and that failure cast doubt on the whole thing. So we're stuck watching idiots posting the terrorist wannabe equivalent of "First Post" in forums on the other side of the planet and chasing down the forums on this side of the planet.
posted by jwells at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

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