September 28, 2004
Zarqawi Website Hacked Again
UPDATE 9:49 AM EDT: Website back up!! That didn't take long.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's website has been hacked again and My Pet Jawa may be partially to blame. I broke the original story that Zarqawi's original site was hacked by 'TeAmZ USA' on Aug. 22. Later, the website was restored to service before the webhost, a company operating out of Houston, took the website down permanently. However, Zarqawi's group kept a backup site on the same server which eventually became the group's main propaganda arm. That site, until this morning, was used to distribute beheading videos, recruitment messages, issue fatwas and other propaganda. Recently, the site has been used to distribute a taped message by British hostage Kenneth Bigley pleading for his life.
Today, Chad Evans of In the Bullpen discovered that Zarqawi's website had been hacked again by the same group who had taken the site down in August. An image of the message left by TeAmZ USA at Zarqawi's website can be found here, at Chad's original post, or in the extended entry below.
In my two earlier reports (here and here) on Zarqawi's website, My Pet Jawa offered to give out the URL for the Tawid and Jihad website to any entrepreneurial hacker who could take it down. In response to those posts, hundreds of anonymous e-mails were recieved asking for Zarqawi's web address. Some of the anonymous e-mailers claimed to want the address "for research purposes", some for their own benefit, and others simply put a "wink, wink" as their reason. For the most part, I responded by giving my readers Zarqawi's website URL.
Recently, though, I discontinued the practice of giving out his URL. My decision was based on two factors. First, the volume of requests. I could no longer respond to individual e-mails requesting Zarqawi's website address. Second, and more important, I received an e-mail message from a reader who was outraged by what he saw on the Zarqawi website. In fact, he was so outraged that he decided to give the webhost a call and complain.
Eventually, the company responded and said that they were aware of Zarqawi's website on their host and had had numerous complaints. But they reassured my reader with this cryptic message, that "people at the highest level had asked them to keep the website up." I, and my reader, took that to mean that intelligence services were using the website to track down Zarqawi's physical location, something a number of commenters and fellow bloggers (see trackbacks to my original post) warned me of.
In related news, a number of suspected Zarqawi hideouts have been bombed in the last few days, including one this morning. Pure speculation, but could Zarqawi be dead and that is the reason the site is down--no longer needed? The last time TeAmZ USA hacked Zarqawi's website it was back up within a few days. I suspect that if the site comes back online then that would be evidence that the intelligence community does not believe they got Zarqawi. If it stays off, that might be a sign that Zarqawi is dead. Zarqawi's death would be very good news. Unlike al Qaeda, which the Tawid and Jihad terrorist organization has links to, Zarqawi's group is run from the top. In fact, it is likely that Zarqawi personally beheaded Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley, and Nick Berg. Keep fingers crossed.
UPDATE: Since the website it back up, I take it that Zarqawi is still alive. Sad, sad news.