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Yaqin Media Confirms Hack Attack Against Forums

Al Yaqin Media Center, one of the sources of militant Islamist propaganda materials, warned members of al Hesbah Internet forum against logging on websites that look similar to the popular website using the same template design and bearing the same logo. The warning came in a statement distributed yesterday on several militant Islamist forums. "In order to protect your security and your personal information, we would like to warn you against logging into any website that uses the same name and appears to have the same interface as Al Hesbah, unless they've been advertised by al Fajr media, or al Yaqin," the statement said. "We are making huge efforts to bring the website back online in the shortest delays."

On November 18, Al Hesbah, one of the main forums for al Qaeda supporters, and its 11 mirror websites, were all knocked offline. The sudden disappearance of the popular forum followed a wave of cyber attacks on other similar websites such as al Ekhlaas, al Buraq and al Firdaws, who went out of action on September 10, 2008. The shutting down of the websites came a day before the release of the annual al Qaeda propaganda video commemorating the Sept. 11th attacks.

Al Fajr Media claimed at the time that the websites were down because of technical problems, and would be back online very shortly. In spite of that, the websites remained shut down.

A "whois" domain name search of al Ekhlaas and all its mirror websites returned the same result: "domain name is not currently registered," which means that all websites have been shut down by the Internet Registry for the domain names under which the website had been registered.

William McCants, a consultant at West Point 's CTC, told the Guardian he believes such attacks were more the kind of concerted action undertaken by governments, not by individuals. "I think it's probably being orchestrated by several governments and it would have to be on the black operations (illegal but deniable) side," McCants said. "Whoever is doing this knows what they are doing. They are being surgically precise."

Some second-row Islamist forums are using the current circumstances to promote themselves by negotiating to acquire Al Fajr Franchise, which would make them official outlets for al Qaeda propaganda.

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