Originally published by FrontPageMagazine.com.
Terrorist websites can be shut down, especially when the Internet
Service Providers are American. The case of decommissioning three PIJ
hate-spouting websites, is a case in point.
The U.S. Department of Justice noted that "the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad is one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the
world" when it announced the indictment of the PIJ North American leader
Sami al-Arian last year.
Despite this indictment and despite being designated as a terrorist
organization by the U.S. Department of State as far back as October 1997, and
being listed as number 18 on the EU list, a new study by the Center for
Special Studies in Israel reveals
that the PIJ's Internet infrastructure are supported mainly by American
Internet Service Providers who provide services for web-hosting companies
which in turn host the PIJ's primary websites. Of the three U.S. companies -
VONOC, Alabanza, and Level3, only the latter, when first approached by this author,
stated that the PIJ is not its client. Level3 was providing the PIJ with network access while a
wholesale client of Level3 actually managed the "client
relationship" with the terrorist organization. Ultimately Level3
acknowledged that the PIJ site was on their network, contacted their client,
and as a result the site was decommissioned.
Network Solutions, another
ISP, plays a vital role in keeping the PIJ web site palestineway.com online.
They host the "shell" of the site (technically known as a frameset),
and the PIJ loads content for that shell from whatever other site of theirs
happens to be online at any given moment. Palestineway.com posts
announcements about the PIJ's activities, recommends its publications, and
praises Palestinian suicide bombers. Palestineway.com is currently pulling
content from www.abrarway.com which is running on another Level 3 IP address.
On August 31st, the PIJ
issued a statement on Palestineway.com claiming that "Zionist elements
shut down three PIJ website in an effort to silence the voice of the
Palestinian fighter. Those websites will be up soon again."
Palestineway.com is now using an Algerian company serviced by the U.S.-based
VeriSign. while the Beirut web hosting company Abrarway.com, is still running
on a Level 3 IP address. The webhost is newtechwebservices.com, a small
company in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Another PIJ website,
sarayaalquds.com, is the official site of the "Jerusalem
Battalions," the operational wing of the PIJ. The site, registered in
Beirut, lists the latest information about the group's terrorist activities
as well as the wills of the suicide bombers and praise for their memories.
Two days after Level3 alerted its client - the web-hosting company -
sarayaalquds.com is currently down. This same company hosted, and has now
removed two other sites of Palestinian Islamic Jihad: rabdullah.com, a PIJ
site dedicated to promoting the current leader of the organization, Ramadan
Abdallah Shalah, and shikaki.com, which is dedicated to the memory of the founder
of the group, Fathi Shaqaqi, a terrorist killed in 1995.
Another Internet service
provider, Alabanza in Baltimore, provides network access to a
Beirut-registered PIJ domain (www.jimail.com/abrar/), which appears to be
hosted by Backbone Internet, a company in Florida. Backbone Internet is
likely a wholesale customer of Alabanza.
The PIJ, like the
Hizbullah, Hamas and al-Qaida (which also uses a Colorado ISP- Verio, for its
Almjlah website), as well other terrorist and criminal groups, is using our
democratic belief in the freedom of speech to advance its cause - spreading
hate and incitement to commit terrorist acts over the Internet. They also use
their web sites as a means of contact and as a tool to deliver instructions
from headquarters to members of the organization around the world.
The PIJ was formed in the
Gaza Strip in 1979, following the Islamic revolution in Iran. Its
headquarters are in Damascus, Syria and it operates with primary financial
support from Iran and Syria.
The Patriot Act, enacted by
a huge, bipartisan majority after 9/11, defines the facilitation of
communication for terrorist purposes as a terrorist act. Providing Internet
services to terrorist groups meets that criterion, and one can only wonder
what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to identify and stop
web-hosting companies from providing services to terrorist organizations,
Clearly, such information is attainable, and terrorist's web site can be
taken off, as proved by the swift action taken by Level3.
In the meantime, Aaron
Weisburd, Director of Internet Haganah, the foremost terrorist websites
monitoring organization, discovered that sarayaalquds.com ... the website of
PIJ military unit, the "Al Quds Brigade" rabdullah.com and
shikaki.com - are all being setup on 22.214.171.124 by a Swiss web-hosting
company. http://www.shikaki.com/ appears to be the first site that will 'go
Hamas is leading among
terrorist organizations in making aggressive use of the Internet as a
communications channel. The websites of Hamas appear to be operated by
individuals in Lebanon, Gaza, Russia, Great Britain, Malaysia, Indonesia, the
Netherlands, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. These sites are hosted at
datacenters in Russia, Ukraine, UAE, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and mostly by
the United States.
Level3's swift action
demonstrated that terrorist Websites which are used as a very effective
weapon against us, can be identified and shut down. Congress should enact new
legislation requiring American-based ISPs to demand that their clients, the
web-hosting companies identify their customers. This can be done through
methods similar to Know Your Customer procedures, which are already in place
for U.S. banks. As for foreign web-hosting company, OFAC regulations and the
Executive Orders behind them seem as a perfect control mechanism.
In addition, the U.S.
Senate should ratify the Council of Europe's Convention on Cyber Crime. This
convention would enable the enforcement of laws and strip another weapon from
the terrorists' arsenal and help prevent the Islamist Fundamentalists' hate
agenda from spreading like wildfire over the Internet.
Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those