If they can do it on 9/11, why not all the time? Adam Rawnsley reports for Wired:
Jihadi websites are in for a bruising, if the past is any precedent.
For the past two years, Islamic extremists’ online forums have been subjected to a series of attacks around the 9/11 anniversary — just as the jihadists worked to score a propaganda win. Major sites have been shut down, some permanently. Previous reporting has indicated that the United States and its allies have been responsible for some of the attacks.
As Sept. 11 approaches, the United States may or may not go for the hat trick and launch another round of online sabotage. But should it? What do western governments gain from occasionally disrupting jihadi websites?
In September 2008, a number of major jihadi forums were attacked and shut down shortly before the 9/11 anniversary, delaying the release of a feature length al-Qaida 9/11 anniversary video, The Harvest of seven years of the crusade. Eight days later, when the video was finally released, the passwords provided to extract the video files were incorrect. In time, the sites mostly recovered. The video became accessible and remains so today.
A year later, major jihadi websites again were taken offline. This time, Ekhlaas, one of the forums which shut its doors after the 2008 attacks and had remained closed, resurfaced and began advertising itself anew with a hacked user ID used by the al-Fajrmedia network to post media in the forums. Al-Fajr issued a press release denouncing the zombie Ekhlaas as fake, created by hostile intelligence services and warned former users against logging on. The new Ekhlaas eventually gave up and shut down. Major sites like Fallujah and Shumukh (pictured, above) regained functionality. And by Sept. 13, As-Sahab had released Osama Bin Laden’s A Statement to the American People video — albeit two days after the customary anniversary date.
In both cases, the videos were eventually released. The attacks eventually ceased. The forums eventually returned, more or less, to operation. So what is there to show for the efforts?…
[continues at Wired]