This September 11, everyone waited with baited breath for the yearly “nyah nyah nyah” video rant from Al Qaeda.

More worrisome was that there might be a pep talk to coordinate a pre election attack in the US.

But something happened with the Alqaeda websites that usually deliver the videos: They went off line.

It was assumed that either the US military/security services took them offline, or maybe just a western cyberpunk who got mad decided to do a little work on his own.

The Post article notes that taking down such websites cause jihadi groups to use slower less reliable ways to communicate that are harder for western spy organizations to detect, so they are rarely attacked by security agencies who want to eavesdrop on what’s going on.

But the story gets stranger and stranger. Soon jihadi discussion group sites started getting hacked. Then other sites got hacked in return.

The 1000 year old Sunni/Shiite cyberbattle was on.

From the Washington Post:

In September, hackers targeted what Iranian news media estimated to be 300 Shiite sites, many of them operated by Shiite religious leaders in Iran. Targets included the official site of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading Shiite cleric in Iraq. For several days, visitors to that site were connected instead to a YouTube video featuring American talk-show host Bill Maher mocking what he said were the cleric’s edicts, or fatwas, on sexual matters….

In retaliation, Iranian hackers hit back:

The two main Sunni radical propaganda sites, Al-Ekhlaas.net and Alhesbah.net, have been down most of the time since September 11. 

According to StrategyPage, a lot of the hacking is not done by hard radicals but  ordinary hacker geeks who got annoyed at each other.

Since it is more a low level geek war that has more to do with local religious rivalries than with real terrorism,  the western cyberterror experts are sitting back and leaving the kids do their own thing.

Even in the Middle East, not everything is politics or religion. Some things are just done for the heck of it.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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