Al-Qaeda Videos Uploaded From Government Website
The state of Arkansas unknowingly helped the al-Qaida terrorist network distribute propaganda promoting violence against the United States.
Laura Mansfield, associate director of the Northeast Intelligence Network, first noticed the postings yesterday while monitoring a forum on an Arabic-language Internet bulletin board frequented by al- Qaida sympathizers.
The Ansar forum received notoriety for releasing the video of the beheading of American citizen Nicholas Berg in Iraq.
From July 9 to mid-morning yesterday, a self-proclaimed U.S.-based al-Qaida sympathizer known as "Irhabi 007," or Terrorist 007, listed a large number of video and audio files for download by fellow sympathizers, Mansfield reported to WorldNetDaily.
The files were located on an anonymous FTP server at the Arkansas Department of Highways and Transportation in two directories called "007" and "ALQA3EDAH."
Among them were files highly sought after by jihadis, including the al-Qaida films "Badr al Riyadh," "American Hell in Iraq," "Russian Hell," "Martyrs of the Confrontation" and "Wills of Martyrs." Also posted were the Berg beheading video and many audio and video clips of various al-Qaida leaders, including Osama Bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musa'ab al-Zarqawi.
The files were located at ftp://www.ahtd.state.ar.us/incoming/GIS/007 and at ftp://www.ahtd.state.ar.us/incoming/GIS/ALQA3EDAH
Mansfield reported the postings to the Joint Terrorism Task Force at 3:20 a.m. Eastern time and by noon yesterday, the directories and files no longer were accessible.
"Terrorist 007" has a history of appropriating anonymous FTP space, Mansfield noted.
Earlier this year, he briefly was observed distributing al-Qaida films from a server belonging to George Washington University.
The theft of bandwidth and server space is a relatively new tactic for al-Qaida and its sympathizers, Mansfield said. Last month, Silicon Valley Land Surveying Inc., a California company, was the victim of a similar hijacking when al-Qaida appropriated web space and bandwidth to show a video of American hostage Paul Johnson, who later was beheaded.
Mansfield explained the jihadis have resorted to hijacking websites as the demand for their videos and audios on the Internet exceeds the meager allocations provided by the free web hosting companies they use for many of their websites.
Free website providers are chosen also because of the relative anonymity they provide. Purchasing web space requires placing a credit card on file for payment, which allows law enforcement to trace the purchaser more easily.
Randy Ort, public affairs officer for the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said the files in question were located on an unsecured FTP server. He denied the security of the state website was ever at risk.
Ort said the department notified law enforcement authorities as soon as he learned of the unauthorized intrusion. All access to the FTP server was closed as soon as the discovery was brought to his attention, he said.
Ort also insisted taxpayers of Arkansas would not bear the cost of the bandwidth charges because the website is part of a fiber-optic interstate system.
Mansfield advises anyone concerned about servers being compromised
in a similar manner to turn off anonymous FTP access.