[funsec] Al-Qaeda Web forums abruptly taken offline

Juha-Matti Laurio juha-matti.laurio at netti.fi
Sat Oct 18 14:12:39 CDT 2008

"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 17 --
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.

The disappearance of the forums on Sept. 10 -- and al-Qaeda's apparent inability to restore them or create alternate online venues, as it has before -- 
has curbed the organization's dissemination of the words and images of its fugitive leaders.
On Sept. 29, a statement by the al-Fajr Media Center, a distribution network created by supporters of al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups,
said the forums had disappeared "for technical reasons," and it urged followers not to trust look-alike sites.

For al-Qaeda, "these sites are the equivalent of pentagon.mil, whitehouse.gov, att.com," said Evan F. Kohlmann,
an expert on online al-Qaeda operations who has advised the FBI and others.
With just one authorized al-Qaeda site still in business, "this has left al-Qaeda's propaganda strategy hanging by a very narrow thread."

At the same time, in an apparently unrelated flare-up of online sectarian hostility,
Shiite and Sunni hackers have targeted Web sites associated with the other sect,
including that of a Saudi-owned television network and of Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric."

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