Hackers working for the British Intelligence agency MI6 were able to disrupt Al-Qaeda operations by replacing bomb-making formulas in an “online magazine” with cupcake recipes from the Ellen Degeneres show.
Produced by radical preacher and leading Al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki, the 67-page, color “online magazine” was “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber,” according to former CIA analyst Bruce Reidel. But the recruitment effort hit a bit of a speed bump thanks to MI6 hackers who were able to make a few changes to the screed before it was released.
When potential followers attempted to download the magazine in order to check out articles like “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” which was apparently actually part of the original content, they instead received “garbled computer code.” Nothing too exotic or top-secret, though; it was, in fact, a web page of recipes for “The Best Cupcakes in America,” taken from the Ellen Degeneres web site and inserted into the publication by British hackers. The hackers also removed articles written by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and a piece called “What to Expect in Jihad.”
British and U.S. intelligence agencies learned of the planned publication last year and each had planned its own attack in response, but the CIA pulled the plug on the U.S. Cyber Command operation over concerns that it would “expose sources and methods and disrupt an important source of intelligence.” MI6 had no such qualms and went ahead with its operation, which was successful, albeit only for a short while. Al-Qaeda was reportedly able to republish the magazine two weeks later and has put out four more editions since; British intelligence is continuing to carry out operations against sites carrying them.
Source: The Telegraph