The British intelligence service MI6 hacked Inspire, an online Al-Qaeda English-language magazine produced by al-Awlaki, and … well, let Duncan Gardham, security correspondent for the Daily Telegraph tell it:
When followers [of Al-Qaeda] tried to download the 67-page colour magazine, instead of instructions about how to "Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom" by "The AQ Chef" they were greeted with garbled computer code. The code, which had been inserted into the original magazine by the British intelligence hackers, was actually a web page of recipes for "The Best Cupcakes in America" published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show.
The cover of an earlier issue of Al-Qaeda's English-language "Inspire" magazine.
By contrast, the original magazine featured a recipe showing how to make a lethal pipe bomb using sugar, match heads and a miniature lightbulb, attached to a timer. The cyber attack also removed articles by Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and a piece called "What to expect in Jihad."
Written by Dulcy Israel and produced by Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio, it said "the little cupcake is big again" adding: "Self-contained and satisfying, it summons memories of childhood even as it's updated for today's sweet-toothed hipsters." It included a recipe for the Mojito Cupcake – "made of white rum cake and draped in vanilla buttercream"- and the Rocky Road Cupcake – "warning: sugar rush ahead!"
Comment: If stupid terrorists can amuse, why not funny counterterrorists? (June 2, 2011)
Apr. 25, 2013 update: An un-funny epilogue: Bill Gertz reports in Washington Free Beacon that the article "Open Source Jihad: Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" served as the recipe for the Tsarnaev brothers to build the pressure-cooker bombs they deployed at the Boston Marathon. According to a U.S. official close to the ongoing investigation,
the disclosure about how the pressure cooker bombs were built came during hospital room exchanges between investigators and wounded bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The link between the bombers and the magazine is the main clue to emerge so far identifying the bombers as Islamist extremists seeking to wage jihad against the United States. Tsarnaev said the English-language terrorist magazine Inspire provided details on the pressure cooker bombs.
Related Topics: Counter-terrorism
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