April 09, 2009
Taliban Webhosts in US: Jawa Hits Front Page of WaPo
Bonus: PWN the Taliban
Info on Taliban websites currently hosted in US and what you can do about it near end of post.
Update but Howie: The Toora Bora site's DNS record has been pulled by Websouls. The site was hosted on The Planet. But we'll take a DNS record over hosting any day.
http://Toorabora.com = [ ]
Still two main sites remaining and we've dug up yet more we'll get to at a later date.
Sort of. Thanks Washington Post for noticing the ongoing problem of U.S. based webservers hosting terrorist websites, but don't you think you could have mentioned us by name rather than calling us a blogger? And you don't know how to link?
Two can play at that game.
On March 25, a Taliban Web site claiming to be the voice of the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" boasted of a deadly new attack on coalition forces in that country. Four soldiers were killed in an ambush, the site claimed, and the "mujahideen took the weapons and ammunition as booty."A paper is referring to this post: Official Taliban Websites
Most remarkable about the message was how it was delivered. The words were the Taliban's, but they were flashed around the globe by an American-owned firm located in a leafy corner of downtown Houston.
The Texas company, a Web-hosting outfit called ThePlanet, says it simply rented cyberspace to the group and had no clue about its Taliban connections. For more than a year, the militant group used the site to rally its followers and keep a running tally of suicide bombings, rocket attacks and raids against U.S. and allied troops. The cost of the service: roughly $70 a month, payable by credit card.
The Taliban's account was pulled last week when a blogger noticed the connection and called attention to it.
FYI: We knew about the website the whole time. And it wasn't hosted at The Planet for a year, only for the past few months.
We had our reasons.
More from a paper:
"You can learn a lot from the enemy by watching them chat online," said Martin Libicki, a senior policy analyst at the Rand Corp., a nonprofit research organization. Libicki said the bloggers rarely spill secrets, and most are "probably using this more for public affairs rather than recruitment."Which is true, but the websites cited in the article don't have a chat function. Which makes them solely propaganda outlets and means the value of the intel coming from those websites is much lower.
"Public affairs," in many cases, means blatantly anti-Western invective and propaganda.
The more interactive a website the more intel can be gleaned from it.
They then name the website which we helped take down a couple of weeks ago, but the author noticed a website that wasn't on my radar screen:
Another Taliban Web site, http://Toorabora.com, continues to operate, using the services of Free Web Town, a user-friendly template service run by Atlanta-based Tulix Systems. The group's site features regular updates about purported attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces and occasional interviews with Taliban leaders and commanders in English and the regional languages of Dari and Pashto.Um, wrong. Toorabora.com is not hosted by Free Web Town.
In fact Tulix, the Atlanta based company which owns Free Web Town, is the most responsive host to complaints about terror websites. ThePlanet is one of the slowest.
But Toorabora.com is actually hosted by which one?
=188.8.131.52 = ThePlanet.com Internet Services Inc.
(Update: The Toora Bora site has lost DNS so who hosts it is kinda irrelevant now. You can complain to The Planet about the other two sites left on this post.)
More from a paper:
The site is associated with a Taliban group known as the Tora Bora Front...Uh, okay. The basic template of the website was taken directly from The Voice of Jihad, run by Adil Watanmal. So, there is a very good chance this website is run by Adil, too. I mean, the two are almost identical.
Except that the "reports" come from "Qari Sajjad" rather than "Qari Yousef Muhammad" or "Zabihullah Mujahid".
Yvonne Donaldson, spokeswoman for ThePlanet, said the firm cannot afford to monitor every site and instead reacts to complaints, as it did in the case of alemarrah1.com. "If the complaint is credible, we notify the authorities," she said.It's good to know that The Planet actually hears our complaints. As the article mentions, they are the largest webhost service in the U.S. In the past we've just assumed that they ignore us.
A paper ends with this:
Or sometimes even sooner. The Taliban's alemarrah1 site, which disappeared from its old location Friday, appeared again on Tuesday under a slightly altered name.I know. I sat on the new website for a few days before letting Garduneh Mehr know about the Taliban's new official website. Since he's a longtime reader and Canadian I thought I'd give him first shot at putting the Canadian web company involved.
When the website didn't come down, I sent out my own complaints to the New York based webhost. As of this writing, The Voice of Jihad, the official propaganda outlet for "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" -- what the Taliban call their shadow government -- is still up.
Below you'll find relevant e-mail and phone numbers to file complaints. At the end of this post is a sample letter. Keep in mind, as the article from a paper mentions, most webhosts use automatic registration systems which means they are usually unaware who is using their servers.
This does not excuse them for breaking the law, it just means that they are usually unwitting accomplices.
Oh, and thanks to our moral betters at the WaPo for not bothering to try to contact me about the story. You guys are really awesome and way more qualified to break important stories like this than we lowly bloggers.
After all, you went to journalism school and all I am is a blogger with a PhD.
UPDATE: When did Fox News start shilling for The Washington Post?
Update II by Howie: Two Taliban websites that were actually on Free Web Town have been
Free Web Town removed them in a matter of hours, heh much faster than The Planet performs on these issues. We've been meaning to go get them and today brought a good opportunity.
Thanks to Tom.
Here's the contact info for the providers of the remaining Taliban websites .
Peer 1 appears to be owned by a Canadian company canadianwebhosting.com. This company is also the DNS provider, which points browsers to the Taliban's website. No DNS, no readers.
iDIGITAL Internet Inc.
829 - 6081 No 3 Road
Richmond, BC V6Y2B2
Update: The Toorabora.com site has been PWNED. Websouls pulled their DNS record. The site was hosted on The Planet who has not removed the other two. But we'll take a DNS record any day.
http://Toorabora.com = [ ]
There are more companies involved, such as Tucows who registered them and privacypost which helps mask the identities of the Taliban, but I don't have nay more time to work on this post. Feel free to leave additional contact information in comments.
Here's the sample letter of complaint:
You are the host of record for shahamat.org & alemarah1.org (= 184.108.40.206 = Peer 1 Network Inc.).
This is the OFFICIAL Website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (better known as the Afghan Taliban).
See English language page for evidence: http://alemarah1.org/english/
Providing business services, even free ones, to the Taliban violates the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) in the US. Each IEEPA violation of carries a fine of up to $250,000.
Providing business services to the Taliban also violates the Charter of the United Nations (Anti-terrorism — Persons and Entities) List, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 of which Canada & the US have recognized as a legally binding resolution.
It also violates UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1267, of which Canada & the US recognize as binding law. "Asset holders are under an obligation to freeze the assets or economic resources of persons involved in terrorism as listed in the Consolidated List", of which the Taliban are listed.
In addition, the website contains fraudulent registry data.
Please remove it without further delay!