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Tampa GOP Cyber-Attack By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 09, 2006

Over the last half dozen years, the words “Tampa” and “terrorism” have become synonymous, mostly due to the huge amount of coverage given to the case of Sami Al-Arian and his local Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) cell.  But while most everyone can recognize Al-Arian with his oval glasses, balding head, pointy ears and graying beard, a new form of terrorism that has taken hold in Tampa has no face.  In fact, the form of this menace is nothing more than a two-dimensional computer screen.

Cyber-terrorism consists of two main components, computer hackers and terrorists.  Whereas hackers are normally known for little more than mischief, cyber-terrorists have an added threat of violence.  Recently, a Tampa-based Republican organization, the Tampa Bay Young Republicans (TBYRs), had their website attacked by just such a group.


In mid-March of this year, the site that hosted the TBYR website, www.tbyr.com, was taken by siege.  Upon entering the TBYR homepage, one was forced to view a graphic of a crest containing the national flag of Turkey.  Under the crest were the words, “Hacked By Cyber-Raider TIM… Turkey is always here.”  And under that was the address to the website, www.cyber-raider.com.  What was left of the old site was the TBYR logo found atop the page.  The rest of the website was rendered inaccessible.


Visitors to the site witnessing all of this might have looked upon it as a joke or a mere annoyance, yet this hack brought with it instant ramifications.  According to the Vice President of TBYR, Tanya Berger, the hack “inhibited” the group’s use of the web as a “recruitment tool.”  But that wasn’t the only problem that came along with these hackers, as Cyber-Raider has, in the past, posted some extremely disturbing material on other sites it has attacked, lending credibility that there’s a possible terrorist element to be dealt with.


One of the tell-tale signs of partiality towards terrorism is the exhibit of an intense hatred towards Jews and/or Christians.  During Cyber-Raider’s hacks, the group has gone after both.  On one hacked site, Cyber-Raider left the following message:  F--k the Denmark and Italy and Israel.”  Denmark, of course, was a reference to the series of Mohammed cartoons that were published by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten  [The Jyllands-Posten, itself, was hacked – from a site being hosted by a company based in Tampa.]  The mention of Italy is most probably a reference to Italy’s monthly magazine, Studi Cattolici, which, according to a report in London’s Telegraph, “infuriated Muslims” by publishing a cartoon portraying Mohammed “cut in half and burning in hell.”


On another Cyber-Raider hacked site (in coordination with another hacker group, Turkhackerler), in keeping with the Mohammed cartoon theme, the following message was found:  “FOR ISLAM FOR TURKEY… While All Islam World regard with reverence to your prophet and address him as Hz. ISA A.S (Christ) (putting a holy prefix in front of his name), You keep abusing, Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech.  No doubt, Hz. Isa (Christ) would hate your nation.  Be G-d’s Curse on You!


The question arises why this group would go after the TBYR site.  On the website, prior to the attack, one found pictures of President George W. Bush and links to sites that are partial towards issues concerning America’s ‘war on terrorism,’ including one to this publication, FrontPage Magazine.  According to TBYR, other sites from the same server were affected by the hack.  However, a representative from Go Daddy, the web company where the TBYR domain is registered, says the company was aware of the hack and that it was most certainly a targeted strike.


This would not be the first time that a politically conservative website was attacked.  Commentator Michelle Malkin’s site fell victim to a hack just a month before, in February.  According to an op-ed in The Washington Times, entitled ‘The Internet Jihad,’ “Malkin suffered repeated illegal ‘denial of service’ attacks which incapacitated the site for hours,” and the attacks were, like the TBYR site, perpetrated by a Turkish organization.  As stated by Malkin on her blog, “my hosting service notified me that it is receiving ongoing threats from individuals vowing to take down this site – and others along with it...”


As of now, the website of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans is still down.  Instead, those typing in the web address are redirected to a MySpace blog that was set up by the group as a temporary measure, until control of the main site is regained.


Unlike TBYR, the Cyber-Raider site is up and running, crest and all, as if to taunt those that it had previously assailed.  On its website, most of the words are written in Turkish, but the frightening message is one that is clear and resonates to all who set their eyes upon it.


As the global Islamist war heats up, technically savvy cyber-terrorists will continue to look to find weaknesses in the Internet infrastructure of the West.  And as more and more of our lives become dependent on the computers that we keep by our sides, these types of assaults will become even less of an annoyance and even more of a threat.  It is this threat that we must address.  Cyberspace, as the new front on the war on terror, cannot be ignored.


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Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.

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