Man hijacks al-Qaida Web site.
July 30, 2002 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Man hijacks al-Qaida Web site. He offers it to the FBI to use for intelligence gathering, but the FBI stumbles around for a week trying to find somebody with the technical abilities to take advantage of the site. By then, the site's militant Islamic visitors had discovered the ruse. Go figure.
posted by TBoneMcCool (24 comments total)
In all fairness, it seems like the FBI needed a week to figure out how to effectively redeploy the site. As the article itself noted, there were too many extenuating factors for them to just jump in without a strategy, or a poorly thought-out one.

Also, when they say the site is being hosted in such and such place, do they mean some clueless hosting provider is unwittingly serving it up, or is it some clandestine home pc somewhere?
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2002

There are so many things wrong with what that article is telling me, I don't know where to begin. A USA porno guy hijacks a major Islamic militant website, thinks no one will notice, and is mad that the FBI didn't "act quickly enough" to use it as a source of disinformation.

I presume he thinks that if the FBI had acted more quickly, no evil terror types would ever have noticed that something was fishy, that their domain was registered by some American porno dude. The previous owners wouldn't have spread the word that the site was a fake if the FBI had taken over, I presume.

And what's with this ???:
"There is a difference between tossing a kilo of coke into a guy's lap and then cuffing him, versus going out and selling it to little children," Pike said.
Sure, there may be a difference, but the FBI shouldn't be doing either of them...
posted by Fabulon7 at 11:53 AM on July 30, 2002

There is a fairly good NRO article on hackers going after radical Islamic sites, including a story about a much more savvy hacker named Jon David (adult webmaster) who actually mirrored the Al-Qaeda site and recorded IP hits for 5 days, then turned the information over to the feds. He has also registered or assumed control of,,, and Interestingly, is registered to someone in Karachia, Pakistan.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:54 AM on July 30, 2002 now resolves to this site which has the following message on it's front page:
Welcome! This is a MOSTLY UNMODERATED discussion board relating to current world affairs surrounding Islamic Jihad and the US led war on terrorism (plus other conflicts around the globe). Opposing views are represented here due to unique domain mirroring. For instance, (the actual domain name once owned by the real Alneda organisation) and both point to THIS BOARD.

Nuke Afghanistan. Charming. I don't think I'll be perusing their forums.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:55 AM on July 30, 2002

"It was like dealing with the motor vehicle administration," said Messner, who runs Web sites, many of which sell pornographic materials. " (emphasis mine)

Hey I'm glad the Post had the foresight to let us know that this guy also runs a lot of porn sites. Definitely an important part of the story.

He totally should try to link this duty to his country with his businesses.

Patriotic porn, long may it wave!
posted by tittergrrl at 11:57 AM on July 30, 2002

Patriotic porn, long may it wave!

What all those AQ dudes really need is a good reach-around....
posted by donkeyschlong at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2002

"I (was) tracing back to hostile message boards that say when translated, 'Praise Allah, the Alneda site is back up,'" Messner said.

Wow, Babelfish does arabic now? I call no way.
(Glad to be an official Mefi-er now)
posted by dr_dank at 12:13 PM on July 30, 2002

Messner, who runs Web sites, many of which sell pornographic materials

Maybe the guy wouldn't have blown is cover so quickly if he hadn't posted all those pics of women without veils.

BTW: I posted this link BEFORE Drudge did. Not that it's a race. But you did read it here first.
posted by TBoneMcCool at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2002

A good arabic site translator (well, the best I know of) does require free translation, but is at:
posted by recklessvisionary at 12:17 PM on July 30, 2002

I think the news angle was that the FBI couldn't come up with a good idea in a week of what to do and how to make it pay off. Inevitably, as Fabulon7 pointed out, someone would have cried foul, but until then you could have a ruse going for three days or more.

How would you have used the site? What would you have done if you were a consultant for the FBI?
posted by stevis at 12:19 PM on July 30, 2002

does require free translation

um, that's free registration
posted by recklessvisionary at 12:21 PM on July 30, 2002

fbi! [snort of derision]
took me less than 10 seconds to come up with the idea of posting pictures of hog slaughter on the terrorist site. may not have nabbed any evildoers, but it would have been funny.

or not...
posted by quonsar at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2002

if he plastered the site with pics of "hot, nude teens" wouldn't the fundamentalists who viewed it have to commit suicide or something? that may have taken a few of them out.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 12:42 PM on July 30, 2002

Just hijacking a domain name won't work, for obvious reasons -- it's not like the original operators blew away in the wind.

As discussed when this came up (somewhat skeptically viewed, I should say) on the warblogs last week was: one more way to keep 'em guessing, at least. One more way to have 'em running around fixing and resecuring their comms as opposed to planning attacks. More than that, though, you're running into the problems outlined. It's too wide open; even wonderfully devious ideas such as using a plug-in to place Sub7 or some other Trojan on visitors' systems fall apart when you realize the amount of casual visitors at a site like that and how much dross any investigator would have to slog through.
posted by dhartung at 12:46 PM on July 30, 2002

if he plastered the site with pics of "hot, nude teens" wouldn't the fundamentalists who viewed it have to commit suicide or something? that may have taken a few of them out.

How about if we photoshopped faces of people they knew onto "h0t arab gay sexxx pics" then maybe they'd start fighting amongst themselves and leave us alone.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2002

"When it comes to monitoring the Internet and exploiting it, you have to leave it to the professionals."

This really made me laugh. If they were stumbling around for a week trying to figure out what to do with the internet information, I sure hope the FBI is not referring to itself as professional.

But when it comes to exploiting the net, a representative from the porn industry seems like a *very* qualified professional.
posted by illusionaire at 1:17 PM on July 30, 2002

Heh. I was wondering when dhartung would bring "warblogs" (what? barfbags?) into this.
posted by artifex at 1:53 PM on July 30, 2002

Eh, I don't think there is much the FBI could have done, despite the fact that it's pretty sad they don't have more people who are familiar with the internet and how it works. Like the article mentions, the main problems would be producing new content -- which makes it awfully hard to keep up the ruse, even for the FBI, and the painfully obvious problem dhartung mentioned -- the original owners of the site. It's not like taking control of their ex-domain shuts them up or stops them from spreading the word.

One more way to have 'em running around fixing and resecuring their comms as opposed to planning attacks.

Yeah, it's not like the people running the discussion/hub site are the ones planning the terrorist attacks.
posted by puffin at 1:58 PM on July 30, 2002

artifex: Apparently we have some differences of opinion. I like reading lots of different opinions. You, on the other hand ...
posted by dhartung at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2002

Your left eyelid's twitching, Dan.
posted by artifex at 5:08 PM on July 30, 2002

You know, it's not that the Feds don't have enough web savvy folks puffin, its just that there all too busy hunting down child pornographers and whatnot.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:05 PM on July 30, 2002

insomnyuk - you've got a good point there. heh.
posted by puffin at 5:09 AM on July 31, 2002

artifex: I would e-mail you, but you're anonymous. I don't appreciate being a) stalked regarding this issue, b) by someone who's anonymous and can't be contacted privately, c) who makes overly-familiar snarky comments about my reactions. If you're willing to e-mail me on this, perhaps we can come to some middle ground of convenience. Otherwise, lay off, unless you have specific content-related comments.
posted by dhartung at 3:12 PM on July 31, 2002

artifex: why not get a free email & allow dhartung to settle this off-Mefi? [Serious question]
posted by dash_slot- at 6:15 PM on July 31, 2002

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