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Crafts website hacked by terrorists ! - 5/7/2006 8:18:09 PM   
SiliconFreak


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Joined: 7/4/2003
From: Melbourne, Victoria, AUS
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A plumber who loves glass etching, Andrew Roberge had crafts to sell. His son, Mike, knew Web design. Carriage House Glass is the marriage of their talents, an online catalog of sandblasted vases and goblets that ''caters to those who love beautiful and unique gifts," the site proclaims.

But the website, which they started four years ago, offered more than just beautiful baubles, specialists in terrorism say. The site contained hidden files filled with the radical writings of a top aide to Osama bin Laden, including ''The International Islamic Resistance Call," Abu Musab al-Suri's 1,600-page manifesto advocating jihad.

The website was hacked a year ago by followers of Suri, a Syrian-born Al Qaeda leader, who turned the Roberge's labor of love into an online reading room for aspiring mujahadeen, the specialists said. The revelation came as a shock to the Roberges, who said they had no idea that Islamic extremists had intruded on their website.

''We got hacked! Unbelievable!" exclaimed Mike Roberge, when told last week of the hidden content on his site.

His startled father added, ''Believe me, I wouldn't let this [expletive] get on my site. I don't need that. I don't need none of that. I'm a firm believer in minding my own business."

The father and son from Lawrence vowed to delete the postings and replace them with images of eagles and American flags, ''something wicked patriotic," Mike Roberge said.

A link to the hidden files on the website was circulated on bulletin boards frequented by Muslim extremists for a year, said Jarret Brachman, director of research at the Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Regular visitors to www.carriagehouseglass.com could never see the hidden material, specialists said. Only visitors who knew the address of the pages inside could access the cache of downloadable Arabic writings, and see the flash animation featuring the Kaaba, the black stone cube that Muslims face when they pray in Mecca.

Brachman and other researchers had been aware of the files, but said the intrusion onto the site was not unusual in the burgeoning world of online Islamic extremism.

''This is a very tangential, very peripheral site that only those who are actively following this sort of literature would be accessing," Brachman said.

''It doesn't cause me alarm: these guys are pests in terms of this stuff," he said. ''This is standard procedure for these guys to post this kind of material."

FBI spokeswoman Gail A. Marcinkiewicz declined to comment on whether the agency knew of the website or was monitoring it. She said the FBI would investigate a website only if it directly advocated violence. Specialists said Suri's writings advocate violence, but Marcinkiewicz said, ''unless . . . there's something very urgent in that paper, it's not that we wouldn't take a look at it, it's just that we have to prioritize. There's no quick and easy answer here."

''Without knowing what it's saying, it may go the bottom of the pile of all the 101 things we have to do over here," she added.

Piggybacking on Carriage House Glass, which is password-protected, allowed extremists to avoid using a credit card or other traceable data needed to start a new website, said Rita Katz, director of the Search for International Terrorist Entities in New York.

''Of course, it's a disturbing phenomenon, but we know that Al Qaeda and the jihadist online community is quite sophisticated, and they use our own techniques against us," Katz said. ''It's disturbing because it could happen to anyone."

As more terrorist training grounds shut down globally, more extremists are going online, said Steven R. Corman, an Arizona State University professor who has studied the shift.


Source : Boston.com
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