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July 14, 2010 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 625

Tension, Suspicion Among Jihadi Websites Following Infiltration, Collapse of Several Sites

July 14, 2010 | By D. Hazan
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 625

After several leading jihadi forums were recently hacked and forced offline, including Al-Falluja, Al-Shumoukh, and Al-Tahadi, other jihadi sites (as well as Al-Tahadi, which has since reappeared online) have been posting announcements meant to reassure the mujahideen and their supporters. The messages stress that the attacks on the forums were part of ongoing efforts by the enemies of Islam to harm the jihadi websites and sow division among the mujahideen, but that these efforts would not prevent the forums' administrators from renewing the sites' activity, which constitutes "jihad of the pen." Readers were also advised to take certain precautions in order to avoid exposure, and to treat certain sites with suspicion.

Against this backdrop, sites began blaming one another for the forums' collapse, with accusations about collaborating with the enemy against rival sites, or of having been infiltrated by enemy agents. Forum participants wondered which sites could be trusted and which were recognized by Al-Fajr, the prestigious jihadi media company organization that distributes videos and communiqués from Al-Qaeda and its franchises.

On July 9, 2010, Al-Falluja became fully operational once more, but initially it did not post Al-Fajr materials, which could indicate distrust on the part of Al-Qaeda towards the reactivated site. On July 11, it posted a communiqué attributed to Al-Fajr; however, this communiqué was not posted from the normal "Al-Fajr reporter" account, but rather from the "Al-Falluja reporter" username. In recent years, Al-Falluja and Al-Shumoukh have been the only two sites that received materials directly from Al-Fajr, which indicated (though somewhat indirectly) their status as sites recognized by Al-Qaeda; the outward sign of this recognition was the use of the "Al-Fajr reporter" account, which makes its current absence potentially significant. Nonetheless, Al-Falluja has posted a fair amount of Al-Fajr material in recent days, which indicates either that the connection between the two is still intact, or that Al-Falluja has been receiving it from some as yet unknown third party. ...

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