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Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has already conceded to the extreme right-wing Israeli Zionists. He told the Knesset, directing his remarks specifically to the right-wing parties that make up Olmert’s coalition, Shas, an ultra-orthodox Judaist party, and Israel Beiteinu, a secular extreme right-wing Zionist political party, on Monday that there will be no Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank ‘unless Palestinian terrorism is stopped’. Since Palestinian ‘terrorism’ is actually Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, one can readily see that Israeli platitudes about peace and talk of a two-state solution are merely a ploy by which the Israeli Zionists can point the finger of blame for the talk’s failures at the Palestinians. The reality is that, like the Likud party, the Shas and Israel Beiteinu do not want a Palestinian state to ever exist. The goal of Israeli Zionists is a Greater Israel that ultimately includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. And the recent appropriation of 1,100 dunams (110 ha.) of land from four Palestinian villages between East Jerusalem and the West Bank by the IDF only reinforces the notion that Israel has no intention of allowing the Palestinians a state of their own.

The quicker the world wakes up to the reality that a separate Palestinian sovereign state is not on the agenda of political parties like Likud, Shas and Israel Beiteinu then the quicker the world will realise that there can only be one solution – and that is the one-state solution of an integrated Palestine.


Andrew B. Noselli said...


Al Qaeda's internet presence disappears after video leak

Al Qaeda's Internet communications system has suddenly gone dark to American intelligence after the leak of Osama bin Laden's September 11 speech inadvertently disclosed the fact that we had penetrated the enemy's system.

The intelligence blunder started with what appeared at the time as an American intelligence victory, namely that the federal government had intercepted, a full four days before it was to be aired, a video of Osama bin Laden's first appearance in three years in a video address marking the sixth anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001. On the morning of September 7, the Web site of ABC News posted excerpts from the speech.

But the disclosure from ABC and later other news organizations tipped off Qaeda's internal security division that the organization's Internet communications system, known among American intelligence analysts as Obelisk, was compromised. This network of Web sites serves not only as the distribution system for the videos produced by Al Qaeda's production company, As-Sahab, but also as the equivalent of a corporate intranet, dealing with such mundane matters as expense reporting and clerical memos to mid- and lower-level Qaeda operatives throughout the world.

While intranets are usually based on servers in a discrete physical location, Obelisk is a series of sites all over the Web, often with fake names, in some cases sites that are not even known by their proprietors to have been hacked by Al Qaeda.

One intelligence officer who requested anonymity said in an interview last week that the intelligence community watched in real time the shutdown of the Obelisk system. America's Obelisk watchers even saw the order to shut down the system delivered from Qaeda's internal security to a team of technical workers in Malaysia. That was the last internal message America's intelligence community saw. "We saw the whole thing shut down because of this leak," the official said. "We lost an important keyhole into the enemy."

By Friday evening, one of the key sets of sites in the Obelisk network, the Ekhlaas forum, was back on line. The Ekhlaas forum is a password-protected message board used by Qaeda for recruitment, propaganda dissemination, and as one of the entrance ways into Obelisk for those operatives whose user names are granted permission. Many of the other Obelisk sites are now offline and presumably moved to new secret locations on the World Wide Web.

The founder of a Web site known as, Nick Grace, tracked the shutdown of Qaeda's Obelisk system in real time. "It was both unprecedented and chilling from the perspective of a Web techie. The discipline and coordination to take the entire system down involving multiple Web servers, hundreds of user names and passwords, is an astounding feat, especially that it was done within minutes," Mr. Grace said yesterday.

The head of the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors Jihadi Web sites and provides information to subscribers, Rita Katz, said she personally provided the video on September 7 to the deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter.

Ms. Katz yesterday said, "We shared a copy of the transcript and the video with the U.S. government, to Michael Leiter, with the request specifically that it was important to keep the subject secret. Then the video was leaked out. An investigation into who downloaded the video from our server indicated that several computers with IP addresses were registered to government agencies."

Yesterday a spokesman for the National Counterterrorism Center, Carl Kropf, denied the accusation that it was responsible for the leak. "That's just absolutely wrong. The allegation and the accusation that we did that is unfounded," he said. The spokesman for the director of national intelligence, Ross Feinstein, yesterday also denied the leak allegation. "The intelligence community and the ODNI senior leadership did not leak this video to the media," he said.

Ms. Katz said, "The government leak damaged our investigation into Al Qaeda's network. Techniques and sources that took years to develop became ineffective. As a result of the leak Al Qaeda changed their methods." Ms. Katz said she also lost potential revenue.

A former counterterrorism official, Roger Cressey, said, "If any of this was leaked for any reasons, especially political, that is just unconscionable." Mr. Cressey added that the work that was lost by burrowing into Qaeda's Internet system was far more valuable than any benefit that was gained by short-circuiting Osama bin Laden's video to the public.

While Al Qaeda still uses human couriers to move its most important messages between senior leaders and what is known as a Hawala network of lenders throughout the world to move interest-free money, more and more of the organization's communication happens in cyber space.

"While the traditional courier based networks can offer security and anonymity, the same can be had on the Internet. It is clear in recent years if you look at their information operations and explosion of Al Qaeda related Web sites and Web activities, the Internet has taken a primary role in their communications both externally and internally," Mr. Grace said.

by Eli Lake, The Sun, October 9, 2007


White House denies leaking info that hurt Al-Qaeda spying

The White House on Tuesday denied being the source of a leak involving an Osama bin Laden video that a private intelligence firm said had sabotaged its secret ability to intercept Al-Qaeda messages.

Asked if the White House was the source of the leak, spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "No, we were not ... We were very concerned to learn about it."

The SITE Intelligence Group said it lost access that it had covertly acquired to Al-Qaeda's communications network when the administration of President George W. Bush let out that the company had obtained a bin Laden video early last month ahead of its official release, the Washington Post said.

"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," SITE founder Rita Katz told the newspaper.

SITE monitors websites and public communications linked to radical Islamist groups and organizations deemed terrorist by US authorities and provides the information to clients, including news media companies.

It got hold of the bin Laden video before its release and provided it for free to the White House on the morning of September 7 but insisted that the video's existence remain secret until it spotted the official release, in order to protect its own work.

"Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's website," the Post said.

By that afternoon the video and a transcript from it had been leaked to a cable television news network and broadcast worldwide, the Post reported.

According to Katz, this tipped off Al-Qaeda that its communications security had been breached by SITE.

White House officials said the matter would be referred to the Director of National Intelligence, and that the White House was not planning any internal investigation.

"When the White House receives information from an individual or a company, we refer that appropriately to the intelligence community. That's what happened here," Perino said.
"And I'll have to refer you to the Director on National Intelligence for any process problem they had in that regard."

Homeland security adviser Fran Townsend echoed Perino's "concern" and referred the matter to the nation's spy chief.

"This is going to be an issue for the DNI to look at so that we can understand what, if anything, happened, and how to deal with it to ensure that we fully protect those who cooperate with us," Townsend said.

"I haven't looked at the internal White House emails, so what I can tell you is the DNI and the Intelligence Committee will need to look at who had access to it.

She added: "We are only going to be successful in the war on terror with the help of the American people."

The video appeared to be timed to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, and was bin Laden's first video appearance since October 2004.
In it, the elusive Al-Qaeda chief mocked the United States as "weak" and vowed to escalate fighting in Iraq.

Another US-based organization that monitors Islamic militant websites, IntelCenter, said its "sources, methods and techniques ... to collect terrorist video material remain intact," according to CEO Ben Venzke, who added that the focus on rushing videos to the public could have dangerous consequences.

"Simply getting the video first but not having the professional knowledge and responsibilities to know what to do with it can not only result in the loss of valuable intelligence but it can actually harm ongoing activities within the official counterterrorism community," he said.

This "has happened time and time again when private citizens and organizations outside of the IC (intelligence community) play in fields where they lack the depth and experience."

AFP (Washington), October 9, 2007

Anonymous said...

The first thing I'd look for, Andrew B. Noselli, is evidence of agencies within the US intelligence community seeking more funding. Whether they had indeed cracked what they call "Obelisk" or not, they are now saying it has "gone dark", and they'll be after more taxpayer's hard-earned in order to pay themselves to try to crack it again.

Damian Lataan said...

Craig, Andrew, it is important that propaganda and rhetoric be ignored entirely if there is no evidence to support the claims being made by such propaganda and rhetoric. It’s very easy for a mainstream media newspaper to make a statement and present it as fact without any supporting evidence whatsoever with the expectation that the reader will then accept it as fact. When a four star US general says an IED was made in Iran then many in the West will believe that – they will even want to believe it. Since 9/11 that is what the people of the West have been ‘groomed’ to expect and accept. For many just the mention of two key words in one sentence is enough to conjure up a belief.

Example; already the death of an Australian trooper in Afghanistan has been attributed to an IED roadside bomb. The Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, made the announcement and in the same announcement said that the IED device may have come from Iran but admitted that there was no evidence to support that. Too late though; the connections are instantly made in the mind of the average Aussie reader – dead Aussie, IED, Iran. It’s that simple. Add all that to the on-going propaganda and rhetoric of Iran seeking nuclear weapons (again, no actual evidence that Iran is seeking to enrich uranium beyond that which is required to generate electricity) and the picture of Iran the enemy of Australia takes shape despite the fact that Iran has neither said nor done anything against Australia or the Australian people. The enemy has been created with nothing more than words.

The same applies to the other ‘enemy’, al Qaeda. The Western media has portrayed al Qaeda as some kind of huge monolithic organisation specialising in providing support for the enemies of the US, Israel and their allies throughout the world and that it has some complex worldwide administrative bureaucracy complete with its own communications and broadcasting network (as Andrew has presented). Some commentators have suggested that, as part of its bureaucracy, al Qaeda even has application forms for those that wish to become members! The Western propagandists have carefully created a picture designed for Western consumption that portrays al Qaeda as a multinational organisation with branch offices everywhere where the US and their allies can be found.

And the evidence supporting all this? Well, there just isn’t any!

Andrew has presented articles showing that al Qaeda’s broadcasting and communications network has gone quiet. The first question I have to ask is; what broadcasting and communications network? Where’s the evidence that there was ever one in the first place? We’ve seen the fake Osama’s and we’ve all seen the fake beards, the fuzzy, grainy, badly lit videos. I’ve seen better stuff made and presented by primary school kidz!

There is only one thing that is important for historians, educators and seekers of the truth and that is; evidence. Not inference, not stories in newspapers that have no supporting evidence, not blatant propaganda, not supposition or conjecture – just good old fashioned plain and simple EVIDENCE.

And, of course, as Craig suggests, there may be other ulterior motives for various Western entities to perpetuate the myths of the propaganda they have created – such as justifying their existence and having their share of the honey pot provided by the taxpayers they have scared into coughing up their hard-earned.

Anonymous said...

Another possibility is that some group (perhaps a 'commercial rival') is trying to undermine SITE's perceived value to the "intelligence community" and corner the market for that type of 'intel'.

Consider the benefit to a rival group providing similar service to that of Rita Katz and her SITE Institute, like say the people behind DEBKAFile.

Anonymous said...

Trouble is obtaining evidentiary material on potential cases of industrial/market espionage. All the parties are motivated to keep all relevant information secret. It's a tough thing to crack.

Damian Lataan said...

Craig, the beauty of being in the 'intelligence' game is that one can make wild outlandish claims without having to produce any actual evidence on the grounds that producing the evidence will compromise the sources and 'national security'. It's a sort of inverse Catch 22 situation that works to enhance the propagandists hold on the gullible - the more you tell 'em you've got a secret the more they want to know but knowing they can never know because it's a secret. After a while, with the right media backup, you can tell them just about anything you like. Eventually it becomes an industry with big money at stake.