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[infowar.de] Verwirrung um offizielle Taliban-Website
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Taliban Web Sites Remain Online,
Wired News, 30.10.2001
Does Official Taliban Site Exist?
By Patrick Di Justo
Afghanistan's Taliban government, which declared the Internet unholy
and banned its use for millions of Afghan citizens last June, maintained
a website until shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and still
has at least one e-mail address through its embassy in Pakistan.
The DNS entry for the Taliban's website currently points to the null
IP address 127.0.0.1. Before Sept. 11, however, it directed users to the
official page of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, an austere,
multi-layered website hosted by Brain.net.pk, a Pakistani ISP with a
server farm in Singapore.
The most recent version of the website, resurrected by Google's cache,
puts a surprisingly moderate face on the regime: The website offers its
readers interviews with Taliban leaders, investment opportunities in
various Afghanistan businesses, and even includes a section for
questions and comments.
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One unanswered question is how the Taliban accessed the Internet from
within Afghanistan at all. Bram Abramson, director of Internet Research
with Telegeography of Washington, doubts there was ever any high-speed
Internet infrastructure placed in Afghanistan to begin with, since the
country has been at war almost continuously since 1980.
"There's just no way to know what their bandwidth is like," he said,
adding that he believed any Internet traffic into and out of Afghanistan
before the bombing campaign would have been limited to portable
satellite terminals connecting to Singapore or the United Arab
Since the U.S. bombing began Oct. 6, he believes Afghanistan has been
off the Net completely.
N.R. Liwal, an Internet solutions provider in Peshawar, Pakistan, said
that if the Taliban is using satellite terminals to get online, they
aren't using his. Despite a website that proclaims, "We brought the
Internet to Afghanistan", Liwal says his company, the Liwal Group, spent
the last two years trying unsuccessfully to bring solar-powered VSAT
technology to Afghanistan, with connectivity services to be provided by
SingTel of Singapore.
VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminals) systems use geostationary
communication satellites and portable (less than 1 meter) satellite
dishes to bring the Internet to otherwise inaccessible places.
"Satellite wireless is the only way to get e-mail and Internet in
Afghanistan," Liwal wrote in an e-mail.
Perhaps worried by Liwal Group's advertising claims that their system
would allow full communications with the outside world from anywhere in
the country, Afghanistan's rulers balked at adopting the technology. "We
were trying to establish (an Internet presence)," Liwal said, "but
(were) not permitted by Taliban."
Brain.net.pk, with an internal fiber network connecting 162 Pakistani
cities, is the largest ISP in Pakistan, and is the one the Taliban chose
to use when it went online. Brain.net provides e-mail service to the
Afghan embassy in Islamabad, as well as hosting for the Taliban's
Like most of Brain.net's consumer traffic, the Taliban's embassy is
connected to Brain.net over a 56K dialup line.
Irfan Shahid, manager of operations for Brain.net, handled the
Taliban's domain setup last April. He said that after the terrorist
attacks, www.afghanistan-ie.com (and its cognate, www.afghan-ie.com)
received more traffic than Brain.net permits for its customers, so the
ISP shut it down.
Brain.net's websites are housed in Singapore, which is relatively
close to Pakistan, cheap to access and blessed with almost unlimited
Brain.net owns a small place in Internet history. Nearly 20 years ago,
a scrap of code written by Brain Computers founders Basit Alvi and Amjad
Alvi in Lahore, Pakistan, became the first computer virus to enter the
Baber Rabbani, the director of the Peshawar office of Brain.net,
refuses to discuss what he knows about the Taliban's Internet presence.
When asked if Brain.net has any users located outside Pakistan, he
immediately said no. Rabbani says the Afghanistan phone system has very
noisy analog lines that are totally unsuitable for dial-up use.
Even the Pakistani embassy in Kabul, he added, doesn't have an
Internet link to the outside world. He gave an even stronger denial when
asked if Brain.net did any domain registration for people outside
Pakistan: "No, never," he said, indicating he did not want to talk about
Brain.net's connection to its neighbor's government.
Rabbani was enthusiastic, however, when talking about technical
information regarding the company, such as Brain.net's primary link to
the outside world (SEA-ME-WE3, an undersea fiberoptic cable that
stretches from Germany to Japan), the company's Unix/Linux server farms
in Lahore and Singapore, and about its backup satellite link with
Yet of the four public e-mail addresses the Taliban used, the only one
that evidently remains active is afghan -!
- brain -
However, there has
been no response to repeated messages sent to that address.
One person not worried about discussing his supposed connection to the
Taliban is Nisar Ahmed Atayee, an expatriate Afghan who lives in the Los
Angeles suburb of Newbury Park. His website, ShariatOnline.net, was
named by the Times of India as an official Taliban website.
Atayee insists he is using his website only to alert the world to the
horrific drought in Afghanistan. The placement of the Taliban flag and
seal on his website is, he says, merely to identify it as the product of
a proud Afghan. "It is the flag of my country, since the 1990s, and that
is all," he explained.
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