Somebody is shutting down Al Quaeda websites

Washinton Post writes:

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 17 — Four of the five main online forums that al-Qaeda’s media wing uses to distribute statements by Osama bin Laden and other extremists have been disabled since mid-September, monitors of the Web sites say.

The disappearance of the forums on Sept. 10 — and al-Qaeda’s apparent inability to restore them or create alternate online venues, as it has before — has curbed the organization’s dissemination of the words and images of its fugitive leaders. On Sept. 29, a statement by the al-Fajr Media Center, a distribution network created by supporters of al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremist groups, said the forums had disappeared “for technical reasons,” and it urged followers not to trust look-alike sites.

For al-Qaeda, “these sites are the equivalent of pentagon.mil, whitehouse.gov, att.com,” said Evan F. Kohlmann, an expert on online al-Qaeda operations who has advised the FBI and others. With just one authorized al-Qaeda site still in business, “this has left al-Qaeda’s propaganda strategy hanging by a very narrow thread.”

Full story.

At this time, it is not publically known who is responsible. The journalists have asked American military, and it has refused to comment.  The fact that the websites have apparently been down for an extended period of time may indicate some sort of diplomatic coöperation from local governments, or perhaps that Al Qaeda is switching to another form of communication.

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