iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 13, 2008
Hackers prevented Al Qaeda from releasing a videotape to mark the seventh anniversary of 9/11. Al Qaeda has traditionally issued a video or audiotape by either Osama bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri, the terror network’s two leaders, to mark their massive terrorist attack on the US.

As-Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media unit, had indicated earlier this week that it would post such a videotape on September 11. As-Sahab had banner images on the internet showing a silhouetted head with a question mark and the words, “Wait 11 September”.

The US-based intelligence group IntelCenter had speculated the video would be a message from Osama or Zawahiri with a recording of the last will and testament of Mohammed Atta, one of the leaders of the 9/11 attackers.

Sources close to US intelligence said, “Hackers knocked out Al Qaeda’s online means of communication, thus preventing them from posting anything to commemorate the anniversary.”

Western intelligence suspects two hackers who have targeted Islamicist sites before were responsible: Aaron Weisburd from Internet Haganah and Rusty Shackleford from the web group My Pet Jawa. Continued on Page 20

Both have been active in ongoing Internet battle between Islamicist hackers and their opponents.

Terrorism expert B Raman says, “I received word two days ago that it was possible the tape would not be released because of hackers.” He noted: “As Sahab is having problems. (Al Qaeda spokesperson) Adam Gadan, in charge of the website, has not been heard of for six months. There are reports he may have been killed in Pakistan.” He expects the tape to be issued three or four days from now. “Or they will send it to Al Jazeera.”

This is not the first time hackers have dented the plans of the world’s deadliest terror network. In 2004, a hacker group called TeAmZ USA had knocked out the websites of Abu Musal al-Zarqawi, late head of the Al Qaeda in Iraq, for showing tapes of Westerners being beheaded. The hackers left the image of a gun-toting penguin on the website.

Last year’s Al Qaeda anniversary videotape included a eulogy by Bin Laden to 9/11 attacker Waleed al Shehri and his video will — a recording made by suicide bombers before they carry out their missions. Al Qaeda failed to issue an anniversary tape in 2004 as well, leading to speculation  Bin Laden had died. Last year, Washington released the anniversary tape two days before Al Qaeda did. Says Raman, “This was probably to deliberately show the US had hacked the password to Al Qaeda’s website.”