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Al-Qaeda's online forums go dark for longest period

Washington, Tue, 03 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 3(ANI): Al-Qaeda's main Internet forums have been offline for over a week in what experts said is the longest sustained outage of websites since they began operating eight years ago.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for disabling the websites, but the duration of the outages have led some experts to conclude that the forums have been taken down in a cyber attack launched perhaps by a government, a government-backed organization or a hackers' group.

Shumukh al-Islam, a primary source for al-Qaeda videos and messages, went down March 22, and, subsequently, four others have gone dark, The Washington Post reports.

A message claiming to be from the site's administrators said that it would be back up "as soon as possible."

There is, however, still some uncertainty about whether a cyberattack caused the recent outages and skeptics said that some prominent al-Qaeda forums remain online.

U.S. government agencies, including U.S. Cyber Command, had no role in the outages, officials said on the condition of anonymity.

Former State Department counterterrorism official Will McCants said given the number of sites affected and the duration of the outages, "it sure looks like a takedown."

The earlier blackout of al-Qaeda web forums took place in 2010, when British intelligence officials disrupted the launch of an online magazine produced by the network's affiliate in Yemen. (ANI)

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