State Department Uses Hacking to Frustrate al-Qaeda
As terrorism continues to cause trouble over the world, new and improved methods of stopping them have been emerging. The latest example would be the State Department hacking websites used by al-Qaeda; the purpose of these hacks is to replace ads and stories that talk about how many innocent Americans and American soldiers have been killed. Instead, they are being replaced by stories which discuss how many innocent citizens of the Middle East have been killed thanks to terrorist’s activities.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released a statement on today which discussed the plan to replace these ads and stories as a way to demonstrate to people in the Middle East how harmful these terrorist’s activities have been.
“Our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaida attacks have taken on the Yemeni people. Extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet,” she said.
Clinton said the maneuver was performed by several operatives of different departments, all of whom worked together at the State Department. This group is called the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, and they have made it their mission to counter al-Qaeda’s verbal assaults and threats on the Internet.
“Together, they will work to pre-empt, discredit and outmaneuver extremist propaganda,” Clinton said.
Normally, the intention would be to have all of this work done as covertly as possible. However, the State Department has decided to take a more open and public approach as a means to upset and frustrate the terrorists.
“We parody and poke holes in what they do,” a State Department official explained, in a cyber “cat and mouse game.”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to because he was not authorized to describe the process publicly.
Last week, AQAP launched a new series of banner attack ads focusing on them fighting the Americans, with U.S.-flag-draped coffins, the official explained.
The State Department team countered the attack by buying space on the same site with new ads, featuring the coffins of Yemeni civilians.
Clinton described the cyber effort as part of a larger, multipronged attack on terrorism that goes beyond attacks like the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden to include the propaganda battle, and the longer, slower campaign of diplomats working alongside special operations troops to shore up local governments and economies and train local forces.
Clinton was speaking alongside Adm. Bill McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, at a conference of hundreds of U.S. and international special operations commanders — the two senior leaders sending a tacit message to their sometimes warring tribes of troops and diplomats that they have to get along.
Yemen is considered both a model and a test case of that effort. U.S. diplomats have been working to stabilize the fledgling government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who replaced ousted Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh stepped down in February as part of a U.S.-backed power-transfer deal brokered by Gulf Arab countries aimed at ending political unrest in the country after a yearlong uprising.