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US State Department Hacks Al-Qaeda Websites In Yemen 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the hearts-and-minds dept.
shuttah writes "In the growing Al-Qaeda activity in Yemen, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed today that 'cyber experts' had recently hacked into web sites being used by an Al-Qaeda affiliate, substituting the group's anti-American rhetoric with information about civilians killed in terrorist strikes. Also this week, a statement from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs revealed the presence an Al-Qaeda video calling for 'Electronic Jihad.'"
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US State Department Hacks Al-Qaeda Websites In Yemen

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:11PM (#40101023)

    They did it for the lulz.

    • Re:They did it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:44PM (#40101399) Homepage Journal

      It is a matter of record and fact: The US kills more innocent civilians in Yemen - or anywhere else, for that matter - than do any alleged 'al-qaeda' affiliates.

      Jeremy Scahill, National Security reporter for The Nation:

      "Saleh essentially made an agreement with the Obama administration to get an increase in his counterterrorism funding in return for allowing the United States to conduct various operations of its own, unilaterally. And so, effectively, counterterrorism funding for his regime became like crack cocaine. Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. His government was extremely corrupt. This was their cash cow, claiming that they were fighting terrorism.

      And so what you've seen over the past 10, 12 years of history between the United States and Yemen is Ali Abdullah Saleh, when it was convenient for him, allowing the al-Qaida threat to flare up, looking the other way when 23 al-Qaida people broke out of the prison that they were supposed to be held in, actually allowing weapons to be smuggled into al-Qaida areas so that they would attack a police station, and then coming back to the United States and saying, oh, we really need more funding to go and fight these terrorists."

      " the United States has sort of outsourced its intelligence operations in Yemen to Saudi Arabia and Yemen's security forces. And we've seen repeatedly over the past 10 years the Saudis and the Yemenis manipulate events regarding al-Qaida within Yemen to try to curry favor with the United States or to get more funding.

      And so I just would sort of reserve commentary, as a reporter who's covered Yemen extensively and been there, on going too far down the line of guessing who this agent was, who he was working for, and what he actually did, because I've seen it too many times where someone's getting played, or someone's getting spun."

      "Colleagues of mine who are in the south of Yemen right now and are on really the front lines of this drone war, my friend Iona Craig, who's a great reporter for the Times of London, was just saying to me that she met civilians who were severely burned from the drone strikes and that one civilian that she talked to said there were 26 people killed in the strike that he survived and was severely burned in."

      "the U.S. bombed this village and killed 46 people, and we know the names of all of the people that were killed. I went there myself. I interviewed a woman who lost her entire family. An old man, 17 of those 46 people that were killed were members of his family. There were five pregnant women among the dead."

      http://www.npr.org/2012/05/17/152854335/why-the-u-s-is-aggressively-targeting-yemen [npr.org]

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by catmistake (814204) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:12PM (#40101027) Journal
    Not to sound unpatriotic, but h4x1ng their bank accounts and those of their supporters would impress me more. Go Joe!!
    • Psyops. It's all about using knowledge and bias as a weapon.
      • Psyops. It's all about using knowledge and bias as a weapon.

        Fair enough. And I see now even a slap in the face really is a valid and effective attack against them. Thanks for making that point.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      Al-Qaeda is a former CIA asset. In fact they are still using them in Egypt and Syria to exert regime change. They don't want to *really* want hurt their friend/ally by stealing money..... just put on a little show to impress the Americans back home.

      1 - http://www.infowars.com/syrian-girl-natos-secret-agenda-in-syria/ [infowars.com]
      2 - http://www.infowars.com/al-qaeda-rebel-pictured-with-un-observers-in-syria/ [infowars.com]
      3 - http://www.infowars.com/cia-double-agent-cia-and-british-intelligence-created-ruse-known-as-al-qaeda/ [infowars.com]
      4 - http [infowars.com]

      • by lgw (121541)

        You do realize that "infowars" is masturbatory fiction for conspiracy nuts, right? I mean, it can be entertaining just like the old Weekly World News story on Saddam and bin Laden's mariage was entertaining (with great wedding photos), but it's about as credible a source.

      • I thought Al-Qaeda was essentially a phantom organisation invented by some CIA informant, and that Osama just latched onto the name as a prefab label of fear, and that there was suggestions that others had done the same....
  • ...Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twotacocombo (1529393) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:13PM (#40101039)
    The feds hack a website, and they issue a triumphant press release. Anonymous does it, and they release the hounds.
    • Re:...Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

      by bhcompy (1877290) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:15PM (#40101073)
      Maybe they'd be okay with it if Anonymous hacked terrorist websites instead of the websites of Western governments and businesses?
      • Re:...Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:18PM (#40101105) Journal

        ...terrorist websites instead of the websites of Western governments and businesses?

        You mean there's a difference?

        • by Stan92057 (737634)
          Yes our government wont bomb a flight that your family would be on. The Terrorist however would be happy to kill you and your family without blinking. I don't find terrorism funny at all. But they would party in the streets on hearing of your plane exploding at 33 thousand feet.
          • Yes our government wont bomb a flight that your family would be on.

            Yeah, pull the other one.. Oh wait, you're right. They just shoot them down [wikipedia.org], and then lie about it

          • by Patch86 (1465427)

            Any idea how many Pakistani families (or Afghani, or Iraqi) have been killed by American and Western bombs over the last decade?

            Don't be so self righteous. When it comes to war, nobody gets to come away innocent.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Maybe they'd be okay with it if Anonymous hacked terrorist websites instead of the websites of Western governments and businesses?

        Terrorists defined so by Western Governments makes everything alright, doesn't it? No. If you call hacking a crime, then it is a crime for the government too. It is stupid they made it public, because now they acting like terrorists themselves. This is why more terrorists exist.

        • by Khashishi (775369)

          Let's get this in perspective. Our government is using drones to launching missiles at buildings housing suspected militants and you are worried about the crime of hacking? I'm pretty sure it's a crime to bomb civilians, too.

          • by MorePower (581188)

            I can at least understand trying to kill terrorists. Civilians get killed because of our desperation to kill the terrorists. I mean, it's horrible and all, but at least there is an understandable goal there.

            This seems just flat out petty. If we hacked websites to locate terrorists, or anticipate attacks, or disrupt their finances, I could understand that. But to hack in and just insert our own video? And admit that we did it? It just makes us look like script kiddies putting "USA rulz!!! LOL OMG" on stuff.

            C

            • by Stan92057 (737634)
              If the civilian population without force aid the terrorist they themselves are also terrorist too don't ya think? During the WWars we bombed and killed hundreds and thousands of factory workers. Oh i forgot this isn't the GOOD war this is the dirty war.
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          No. If you call hacking a crime, then it is a crime for the government too.

          Think for a second -- murder is illegal, but war is not. What is war, but mass murder on a huge scale? A thing is illegal when the government says it is, and illegal when the government says it is. That's how the world works, kid.

          • by tqk (413719)

            A thing is illegal when the government says it is, and illegal when the government says it is.

            Is that hyperbole? Your legal system is supposed to define those. If it's not, then you've accepted that your government is utterly out of your control and the only moral and ethical action left to you is to lock and load. Vive la revolution.

            I hope you can limit it to D.C.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Galestar (1473827)

        terrorist websites instead of the websites of Western governments and businesses

        One and the same.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Maybe they'd be okay with it if Anonymous hacked terrorist websites instead of the websites of Western governments and businesses?

        Well, which is it do they or do they not want terrorist websites hacked?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      As if this is news? For decades, the feds have been busting into innocent people's homes and killing them and their dogs, without being arrested or imprisoned for it. Now, if I were to throw a grenade into someone's house, rush in with an assault rifle and kill them, what do you suppose would happen to me?
      • by DarkOx (621550)

        That is a really terrible SOP as well. I can promise this, if you enter my home legally or illegally and do deliberate harm to my pet you will have removed any possibility the of the situation being resolved without additional violence. I don't care what uniform you have on, my response will be to defend my home and family inclusive of pets with any force that can be mustered.

         

        • My state's Castle law states specifically that it can't be used if the invader is a LEO acting in pursuit of his duties. No one has ever been able to legally explain how this would play out in court in the case of a no-knock warrant. I presume that even with a no knock warrant there is a formal announcement, but if my door bursts in I may not have time to wait for verification. I keep thinking of the guy who got SWATed and met the team with a kitchen knife when he heard people sneaking around outside his
        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          That would be the dumbest thing you could possibly do. Ever hear of Ruby Ridge? [wikipedia.org]

          As Sean Connery's character said in The Untouchables, you don't bring a knife to a gunfight. You don't fight a military tank with a .22. Are you wearing Kevlar? The cops are.

      • Now if I were to pave a road through your backyard and let vehicles travel by your bedroom window at all times of the day and night, what do you suppose would happen to me? Maybe I'm missing your sarcasm, but government is a group of people to which we give additional protections and authority for the purpose of executing actions that are in the benefit of society in general. We should fight corruption and try to maintain a fair definition of benefit to society, but to say they are to be held to the exact
        • You are missing the point about throwing grenades into the homes of people who committed no crime, then busting down their door and shooting them. This happens all over the country:

          http://www.drugwarrant.com/articles/drug-war-victim/ [drugwarrant.com]

          The SWAT teams and drug squads who kill people generally receive no punishment for their actions, even when they kill innocent people. These are not actions that benefit society -- these are people who committed no crime and posed no danger, who were killed by paramilit
      • Re:...Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheCarp (96830) <sjcNO@SPAMcarpanet.net> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:29PM (#40101235) Homepage

        Yup. Underscoring this.... I was listening to Hillary and Panetta yesterday talking about this Doctor in Pakistan. The guy has been arrested for "Working for a foriegn intelligence agency". A crime which could get you life in prison or even death if you were caught doing it here.

        They, of course, want their informant released. Never mind that he broke the trust of Doctor Patient priviledge for untold numbers of people by setting up fake vaccination clinics to sample DNA (which, if done here would have gotten his license taken away and gotten him slapped with serious violations of the law), never mind that he is a Pakistani national who essentially became a spie for a foeign government....

        nope...somehow they don't understand why this guy is in prison.... even though they would hang him if he was an American and did the same things here.

        I don't see whats so hard to understand. The law is great, as long as its convinent to the people in power. The rule of law apparently isn't supposed to apply to them or their sycophants.

    • by j-turkey (187775)

      The feds hack a website, and they issue a triumphant press release. Anonymous does it, and they release the hounds.

      I am still not sure how I feel about the federal government defacing websites, but I do know how I feel about vigilante justice. I am firmly against it, and I believe that this is what Anonymous is all about. I am OK with the feds releasing the proverbial hounds against Anonymous.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by TheCarp (96830)

        Meh I don't see much difference between vigilante "justice" and regular "justice"...its all just excuses to use violence against people.

        Now, when "jusitce" is used against people who probably did something really bad, like murder, or rape...then I have no problem with it, and even cheer its application.

        I don't like it much in the abstract though, I certainly don't cheer it, and do have a problem with it when its used against people who grow plants and sell things to consenting adults with no fraud involved.

        • Meh I don't see much difference between vigilante "justice" and regular "justice"...its all just excuses to use violence against people.

          Now, when "jusitce" is used against people who probably did something really bad, like murder, or rape...then I have no problem with it, and even cheer its application.

          I know! How could anyone have a problem with someone who probably did something really bad being beaten and/or killed?

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            Well I didn't state how much probablity I like.... but nothing is every certain unless you witnessed it (and even then, eye witness testimony is quite unreliable). Generally, I keep a pretty high standard. Hell I was even arguing that Zimmerman guy should be let go because there is no way to know what really happened.

            However, the nice thing about vigilante justice over state justice is that the state steals my money and claims to do it in my name. So when they fuck up, or malicously prosecute someone who di

      • I am still not sure how I feel about the federal government defacing websites, but I do know how I feel about vigilante justice. I am firmly against it, and I believe that this is what Anonymous is all about. I am OK with the feds releasing the proverbial hounds against Anonymous.

        If a Samoan police officer came round to your house and locked you up, that would be vigilante justice, because he has no right to act in your jurisdiction (I apologise if you are actually living in Samoa!)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kiwimate (458274)

      Point one - it wasn't hacking; they posted counter-propaganda messages on a comment forum. Earlier versions of the story called it hacking, but that was updated within minutes.

      Point two - Anonymous releases plenty of triumphant press releases themselves. Anonymous releases their "hounds" (i.e. DDOS attacks) in response to just about any random provocation. What's your point?

      And...

      Point three - are you seriously equating a counter-propaganda operation against Al Quaeda with DDOS attacks designed to disrupt w

    • by Burning1 (204959)

      When the US government bombs an enemy military structure, we issue a triumphant press release. When an anonymous US citizen bombs a US military structure we release the hounds.

      Slashdot complains a lot that the US justice system doesn't seem to understand how to apply existing privacy and copyright law to the internet... And we can't seem to figure out how existing forign policy might apply to the internet. Nice. :)

    • Yeah. And here's another: the feds put someone in handcuffs and take them to jail, they call it an arrest, but if I do it they call it kidnapping! The hypocrisy! It's almost as though the government are allowed to do some things that members of the public aren't!

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:13PM (#40101045)

    These folk are usually extremely careful about the comments they make, so I wonder what the angle is here?

    • by The Moof (859402)
      Well, there's an election coming up. With Osama's death and Iraq supposedly dwindling down, they needed to make some statement to put a positive spin for their "War on Terror."
  • Seems like a pretty hypocritical message, considering all the civilians we've killed over there. In a place where we shouldn't even have military.

    • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:30PM (#40101239) Journal

      Seems like a pretty hypocritical message, considering all the civilians we've killed over there. In a place where we shouldn't even have military.

      The difference is the target and the intent. When we kill civilians, it's truly by accident. They usually die because a weapon malfunctioned or they were too close to a government building. We also tend to apologize for it and in many cases, notify the civilian population before an attack occurs.. In Iraq, for example, the goal was to free the people there from a tyrant.

      Of course, you may disagree with this, but if an Iraqi were to disagree with his government in 2001, they would die. They are free to disagree today. What makes you so special that you deserve freedoms like this and others don't? I served, by the way, not to give you freedoms. You already have them. I served, knowing full well that when I signed, I would be giving those that have not rights the very freedoms that you and I have.

      When Al Qaeda kills civilians, the civilians are the target. There is no warning before hand and no apology afterwards. The goal of Al Qaeda is not to free the population, but to convert or enslave them. If you are a Christian, Al Qaeda wants to you convert or die. If you are an atheist, Al Qaeda wants you to convert or die. If you are a Jew, Al Qaeda wants you to die.

      • by houghi (78078)

        So how would you feel if we would invade your country and brought some of our European Freedom?

        Freedom was also never the reason. Money (in this case oil) is the reason and freedom is the marketing part.

        If freedom would be the real reason, you would have freedom at home as well. You haven't. Companies have freedom, but you don't.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          So how would you feel if we would invade your country and brought some of our European Freedom?

          Freedom was also never the reason. Money (in this case oil) is the reason and freedom is the marketing part.

          If freedom would be the real reason, you would have freedom at home as well. You haven't. Companies have freedom, but you don't.

          Well, let's see:
          Obama is a butthead! Mohammed is a child molester. Moses was a traitor to the Pharaohs that cared for him! Jesus liked wine and traveled with a bunch of guys he repeatedly claimed to love wearing in robes with no visible means of income! Buddha was FAT! Confucius smoked opium! I think I will/will not go to church this weekend. I might even protest while I'm there.

          Yep! Still got my freedoms. No one is knocking at the door. My wife and kids are not being tortured. I'm not being drag

      • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:16PM (#40101785) Journal

        When we kill civilians, it's truly by accident.

        Bullshit. We know there is going to be "collateral damage" going in, and we go ahead and do it anyway. That's not "truly by accident".

        No, when the US kills civilians it knows exactly what it is doing. The powers that be have made a calculation that the benefits outweigh the costs, that's all. The only real question is who actually benefits and who pays the costs.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          When we kill civilians, it's truly by accident.

          Bullshit. We know there is going to be "collateral damage" going in, and we go ahead and do it anyway. That's not "truly by accident".

          No, when the US kills civilians it knows exactly what it is doing. The powers that be have made a calculation that the benefits outweigh the costs, that's all. The only real question is who actually benefits and who pays the costs.

          Bullshit! We attack building late at night as to limit those causalities. We spend TRILLIONS to develop weapons that will only destroy the designated target with as little collateral damage as possible. We have literally passed on targets because of the risk of civilian casualties.

          Fact is, we hold back. We hold back A LOT! Could you imagine what the casualties if we truly didn't care like you say? For starters, there would be zero American casualties. Next, we would save a fortune in transportation a

      • The difference is the target and the intent. When we kill civilians, it's truly by accident.

        The US and the UK between us manage to kill more civilians than enemy combatants, and we appear to kill more enemy combatants than we lose of our own guys.

        It may be by accident, but it's because we're not willing to risk our own guys -- we value them over civilians, which is the wrong way round, if we're genuinely supposed to be the "good guys".

      • by Mitreya (579078)

        When we kill civilians, it's truly by accident. ... We also tend to apologize for it and in many cases,

        (With all due respect) -- Bullshit and Bullshit
        While I agree that US does not target civilians, there is not enough of a review process (well, we don't really know who reviews) and there are certainly no apologies. Last I heard, the official position vacillates between "there is no drone program" to "the drone program is very precise, there is no collateral damage" and, finally, Obama's "Look, we really kill very few good people by accident, it's mostly bad guys"
        They barely admit that collateral damage e

      • Oh, please. If the U.S. really cared about tyrants, we stop propping-up the brutal & corrupt Al Saud "royal" family dictatorship, in "Saudi" Arabia?

        >In Iraq, for example, the goal was to free the people there from a tyrant.

        Wasn't it supposed to be about WMDs?

  • ... Yemen request the extradition of the US citizens responcible for this crime?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:21PM (#40101145) Journal

    Also this week, a statement from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs revealed the presence an Al-Qaeda video calling for 'Electronic Jihad.'

    In the video, they recommend fighting this in a traditional manner like suicide bombing. First you tape up with explosives, then sit at a computer, then log into a US website visited by millions of users daily and detonate your vest -- thereby sending all of those heathenish packets of Western information to hell.

  • by Brewster Jennings (2642639) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @01:24PM (#40101173)
    "State Department officials recently carried out a counter-propaganda campaign on Web sites being used by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, challenging the group’s anti-American rhetoric with information about civilians killed in terrorist strikes, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday" They posted responses on website forums for Tribal sites in Afghanistan. So, unless you believe that countering nonsense is hacking, then no, they didn't hack anything. If you do, though, that means that *this* post is hacking, which I'm pretty sure creates a paradox that destroys the cosmos as we know it.
    • by game kid (805301)

      Yeah; currently article says *clears throat*

      Correction: This is a corrected version of an article that mischaracterized the nature of a State Department campaign to counter al-Qaeda propaganda. A previous version incorrectly said that cyber experts had hacked into al-Qaeda sites to substitute the group’s advertisements with alternatives. U.S. officials did post the alternative versions on the sites, but they did not engage in “hacking,” a term that generally refers to gaining access to a

      • Oh my god.

        You mean this story is seriously about the State Department posting forum spam?

        Truly we have entered a new digital age.

  • Okay, I understand why they did it but what a wasted opportunity. Why not quietly add a hidden pixel on the website and semi secretly track all the ip's and timestamps of visitors to their site. Lots of information to glean from that....
  • Twin killing machines joined at the hip.
  • More likely the CIA called the server owner and said, "give me root or I keeeeeel you!"

  • It's campaign season in the US.

  • Anyone called a "Cyber Expert" is more likely to mistake editing a wiki page as a "hack"

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Closer to what actually happened: The State Department hung up some of their posters next to Al-Q(however you spell it)'s

  • Not quite true (Score:3, Informative)

    by antonymous (828776) on Thursday May 24, 2012 @02:01PM (#40101611)
    What actually happened was that the State Department purchased some anti-Al-Qaeda ads [wired.com] to run when certain key terms were also on the screen, similar to how AdWords works. It's a pretty interesting concept, really - the necessity of displaying advertising on a site can open the door for alternative messages/realities to reach the viewer.
  • no one posted the Obligitory XKCD. http://xkcd.com/932/ [xkcd.com]
  • So, like FPS deathmatches ?.. Why not, that way you can infidels many times over and over.. surely better than the real thing.

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