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[] De-hype II der Al Quaida Stegano-Bedrohung,

al-Qaeda poised to strike hard via the Internet

By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 10/07/2002 at 17:43 GMT

Every few months some naive twinkie in the mainstream press re-writes
the government's urban myth of terrorists slithering through
cyberspace, preparing to blow up a small city with the awesome power
of the computer mouse. Lately the frequency of these press
infomercials has been increasing, most likely in response to a
Federal PR campaign supporting Dubya's sales pitch for a new
Department of Homeland Defence, a piece of bureaucratic
window-dressing engineered to produce a nation-wide illusion of

For a little historical background, the mother of all such
cyber-terror FUD stories is this one by USA Today's Andrea Stone.
It's the government's script on cyber-terror, perfectly reproduced
and unbiased by any evaluation, skepticism or research by the author.

Recently it's been déjà vu all over again. Just over a week ago we
had a hysterical item from the Washington Post predicting mass death
and destruction from al-Qaeda operatives remotely crashing planes and
opening flood gates from secret bases in Internet cafes throughout
the world.

A few days later, ABC News re-wrote the article, as mainstream
outlets like to do with sexy/scary stuff like cyber terror.

That same week we had a warning from the Business Software Alliance,
which told us that a lot of "IT Pros" are worried about this Internet
terror thing (so it must be true), heavily propagated by CNN.

Today we find new FUD by USA Today, in which, ironically, an old and
fully discredited rumor of al-Qaeda using steganography to share
their diabolical plans on Web sites is resurrected and passed-off as

The reporter (or rather government propagandist), Jack Kelley, tells
us that, "lately, al-Qaeda operatives have been sending hundreds of
encrypted messages that have been hidden in files on digital
photographs on the auction site Most of the messages have
been sent from Internet cafes in Pakistan and public libraries
throughout the world."

A painfully familiar claim for which the author provides not one
scrap of evidence, yet expresses as an established fact. We like the
way he uses location (his in Islamabad and the criminal images' on
eBay) for that extra ring of authenticity.

"The volume of the messages has nearly doubled in the past month,
indicating to some US intelligence officials that al-Qaeda is
planning another attack," Kelly warns. His sources, predictably, are
all anonymous 'officials'.

He's merely rehashing a New York Times FUD piece written just after
the 9/11 atrocity which says exactly the same things, and offers
exactly the same disgraceful level of evidence, only with some quotes
from identifiable people.

The Times piece undoubtedly came from a 'we found terrorist stego'
publicity stunt by financially strapped outfit iomart.

Now, with the current struggle on Capitol Hill to approve Dubya's new
Gestapo, it's essential that the man in the street be frightened and
confused by a torrent of 'news' pointing to incomprehensible threats
which only Big Bro has the knowledge and skill to protect him from.

Look for a lot more of this cyber-terror drivel over the next two
months -- or until the Department is created to the administration's
satisfaction, or until Enron, Harken Energy and Halliburton cease
making headlines.

Olivier Minkwitz___________________________________
Dipl. Pol.
HSFK Hessische Stiftung für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
PRIF Peace Research Institute Frankfurt
Leimenrode 29 60322 Frankfurt a/M Germany
Tel +49 (0)69 9591 0422  Fax +49 (0)69 5584 81
Mobil   0172  3196 006                            pgpKey:0xAD48A592
minkwitz -!
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