Friday, March 28
Hack Attack Hits Al-Jazeera Site for Showing U.S. Dead
Bob Mims, The Salt Lake Tribune, March 28, 2003

The Iraqi war raged into cyberspace Thursday, and a Salt Lake City-based Internet service provider became the battleground as hackers pro- and anti-American launched digital salvos.

Because it showed the graphic, bloody images of American prisoners of war executed by Iraqi forces earlier this week, the English-language Web site of Arab satellite television network Al-Jazeera ( has been intermittently taken down by hackers.

On Thursday morning, though, a shadowy hacker group calling itself the "Patriot Freedom Cyber Force Militia" claimed responsibility for actually hijacking the Al-Jazeera site and redirecting it to a patriotically themed Web page depicting a red, white and blue United States map with the message, "God Bless Our Troops."

That unauthorized page was nested into computers run by the Networld Connections Inc. from 8 a.m. Thursday until 10:30 a.m. when it was removed.

But merely taking the bogus Al-Jazeera creation offline did not prevent the 75,000-customer Utah ISP from bearing the wrath of anti-war hackers enraged by Al-Jazeera's cyber-abduction. [...]

Jihad Ali Ballout, a spokesman for Al-Jazeera, was apparently not impressed with the creativity involved. Instead, he blasted Thursday's diversions of the site as "a frontal, vicious attack on freedom of the press."

And how did hackers slip their detoured Al-Jazeera site onto Utah's Networld, even if only for 2 1/2 hours? Bowman said they took advantage of the ISP's free online Web site design template -- a service offered to member families.

Bowman admitted to mixed feelings over the intrusion. As the operator of the ISP, he was upset with his network's security being breached; as an American, he understands the rage over the gruesome pictures Al-Jazeera aired. [...]
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