In a special Internet announcement in Arabic, picked up DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources, Osama bin Laden’s followers announced Monday, Oct. 29, the launching of Electronic Jihad. On Sunday, Nov. 11, al Qaeda’s electronic experts will start attacking Western, Jewish, Israeli, Muslim apostate and Shiite Web sites. On Day One, they will test their skills against 15 targeted sites expand the operation from day to day thereafter until hundreds of thousands of Islamist hackers are in action against untold numbers of anti-Muslim sites.
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that, shortly after the first announcement, some of al Qaeda’s own Web sites went blank, apparently crashed by the American intelligence computer experts tracking them.
The next day, Oct. 30, they were up again, claiming their Islamic fire walls were proof against infidel assault.
They also boasted an impenetrable e-mail network for volunteers wishing to join up with the cyber jihad to contact and receive instructions undetected by the security agencies in their respective countries.
Our sources say the instructions come in simple language and are organized in sections according to target. They offer would-be martyrs, who for one reason or another are unable to fight in the field, to fulfill their jihad obligations on the Net. These virtual martyrs are assured of the same thrill and sense of elation as a jihadi on the “battlefield.”
In effect, say DEBKAfile’s counter-terror experts, al Qaeda is retaliating against Western intelligence agencies’ tactics, which detect new terrorist sites and zap them as soon as they appear. Until now, the jihadists kept dodging the assault by throwing up dozens of new sites simultaneously. This kept the trackers busy and ensured that some of the sites survived, while empty pages were promptly replaced. But as al Qaeda’s cyber wizards got better at keeping its presence on the Net for longer periods, so too did Western counter-attackers at knocking them down. Now Bin Laden’s cyber legions are fighting back. The electronic war they have declared could cause considerable trouble on the world’s Internet.