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Al-Qaeda wages cyber war against US
( 2002-06-27 15:06 ) (7 )

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda is making full use of the Internet in its all-out war against the United States, forcing Washington to chase "Islamist" websites thought to serve as a platform for the terror network.

Al-Qaeda's latest warning to the United States to "fasten its seat belt" in preparation for more attacks of the September 11 variety was issued through an audiotape recording by spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith on the drasat.com site which was aired by Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite channel on Sunday.

Pundits believe drasat.com, run by an "Islamic Studies and Research Center," is the most credible of dozens of Islamist sites which have claimed to post al-Qaeda news since the organization and its Taliban hosts went underground when the US military campaign was unleashed on Afghanistan in October.

The same center had reported al-Qaeda and Taliban news and statements on a site called alneda.com for about five months, until the United States managed to wipe it off the cyber map.

The daily USA Today reported on Saturday that US officials were scouring the Internet for any reappearance of alneda.com, which they believe was used by al-Qaeda to send messages to followers -- including possible instructions for forthcoming attacks.

The site, registered in Singapore, appeared on web servers in Malaysia and Texas this month before it was taken off at the request of US officials, the newspaper said.

Other websites, such as jehad.net, alsaha.com and islammemo.com, have been posting statements attributed to al-Qaeda, but also to other "mujahedeen" (Islamic fighters), especially Palestinians and Chechens.

In a new cyber twist, Islamist websites such as aljehad.online have been "flashing" political-religious songs, coupled with pictures of persecuted Muslims, to denounce US policy as well as Arab leaders, notably Saudi.

"The US enemy, unable to gain the upper hand over the Mujahedeen on the battlefield, has since September 11 been trying to gag the world media," the Center for Islamic Studies and Research declared on its website.

"The more the United States tries to stifle freedom of expression, the more determined we will become to break the silence. America will lose the media war too," it added.

But not everyone using Islamist websites is a bin Laden fan. Indeed, some users have launched harsh attacks against the suspected mastermind of the September 11 suicide plane hijackings and his followers.

"Your repeated threats are nothing but hollow, desperate utterances," one Abu Hamza recently wrote on alsaha.com.

"Whatever happened to your storm of airplanes?" he asked sarcastically.

The reference was to Abu Ghaith's warning last October of more hijacked jetliner attacks to come against the United States and Britain.

"The storm of airplanes will not subside, God willing," the al-Qaeda spokesman said in a pre-recorded message broadcast by Al-Jazeera at the time.

"The storm will not die down, especially as long as you (United States and Britain) do not end your support for the Jews in Palestine, lift your embargo on the Iraqi people, leave the Arabian peninsula, and stop your support of the Hindus against Muslims in Kashmir," he said.



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