Documents Reveal Al Qaeda Cyberattacks

Documents Reveal Al Qaeda Cyberattacks
Documents Reveal Al Qaeda Cyberattacks 

By Alex Kingsbury
US News and World Report
April 14, 2010

Buried inside hundreds of pages of heavily redacted court documents from 
the case of a man accused of being one of al Qaeda's chief recruiters, 
is evidence that the terrorist group has launched successful 
cyberattacks, including one against government computers in Israel. This 
was the first public confirmation that the terrorist group has mounted 
an offensive cyberattack. The attacks were relatively unsophisticated 
and likely occurred before November 2001, when the prisoner who 
described them was arrested. Click here to find out more!

The terrorism suspect, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, was ordered freed from the 
prison at Guantnamo Bay last month by a federal judge who found that the 
government had insufficient evidence to continue detaining him. The 
Justice Department has appealed that decision. Military investigators 
concluded several years ago that Slahi had been both physically and 
psychologically tortured at Gitmo, which could have tainted evidence and 
likely prompted the judge's release order. The court records do not 
specify when and under what circumstances Slahi discussed al Qaeda's 
venture into cyberwar.

Though the vast majority of the court records dealing with the case 
remain classified, some details escaped redaction. For instance, Slahi 
told interrogators that al Qaeda "used the Internet to launch relatively 
low-level computer attacks." Al Qaeda "also sabotaged other websites by 
launching denial-of-service attacks, such as one targeting the Israeli 
prime minister's computer server," court records show. The Israeli 
embassy in Washington had no comment on the information published in the 
court records.

Denial of service attacks are common and relatively easy and cheap to 
coordinate. They aim to overload and temporarily disable websites for 
the duration of the attack. Al Qaeda's interest in the tactic, however, 
has received little discussion and attention.


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