Internet Domain Names May Have Warned of
CNSNews.comCNSNews.com -- The terrorists who planned and executed
the September 11 attack on America may have registered as many as 20
Internet domain names, or web addresses, that experts believe should
have warned authorities of a possible assault on the World Trade
Center in New York City.
Wednesday September 19, 2001
Internet domain names like 'attackontwintowers.com' and
'worldtradetowerattack.com' were registered more than a year ago.
It's not known at this time who registered the suspicious names or
what their purpose was.
"It's unbelievable that they (the registration company) would
register these domain names, probably without any comment to the
FBI," according to Neil Livingstone, head of Global Options LLC, a
Washington, D.C.-based counter-terrorism and investigation company.
"If they did make a comment to the FBI, it's unbelievable that
the FBI didn't react to it," he added.
A spokeswoman in the FBI press office would only say that the
agency will not comment on its investigation into the attacks.
According to Livingstone, at least 17 domain names, including
'pearlharborinmanhattan.com' and 'worldtradetowerstrike.com,' were
registered as early as June 2000, 15 months prior to the attacks.
Two of the domain names contained the dates August 11 and
September 29, which Livingstone said may have indicated the window
of opportunity during which the attackers planned to strike.
He also dismissed speculation that the domain names were a
reference to the bombing of the World Trade Center eight years ago.
"You have two other names containing 2001, so there's no confusion
over the 1993 World Trade Center attack."
To protect his sources, Livingstone would not say with which
company the domain names in question were registered. He had no
information about the identity of the person or people who
registered the names.
A domain name search Tuesday indicated that hundreds of web
addresses containing references to the terrorist attacks were
registered in the past week, and four of the older domain names
provided by Livingstone have already been re-registered.
Domain name registrants are required to use a credit card for
payment, and must provide administrative, technical, and billing
That information, except the credit card data, is available to
the public as long as the registration is kept current.
Livingstone indicated that the required use of a credit card
should mean that authorities would at least have a starting point to
investigate the registrant.
"This is something that someone should have noticed," he said,
"but privacy issues probably kept it from being noticed."
Telephone calls to several domain name registration companies
Tuesday were not returned.
The website for Network Solutions, the world's largest domain
name registrar, included a privacy statement indicative of industry
standards regarding confidentiality: "We will not share such
information with other third parties, except in response to formal
requests (e.g., subpoena or court order) made in connection with
litigation or arbitration proceedings directly relating to a domain
name registration or other services we provide."
Former CIA Director James Woolsey said current laws make it
difficult for the FBI to get a warrant for electronic surveillance
and wiretaps, or to recruit informants based on actions such as
registering threatening domain names.
"There would not be enough material that is close enough to a
specific crime for an investigation to be opened," Woolsey said.
But Livingstone believes authorities should have the right to
investigate inflammatory rhetoric, even something as simple as the
registration of a web address that might indicate criminal intent.
"Something like this ought to come to our attention, and we ought
to investigate whether you do intend to act on it, or whether you're
just a nut case out there who's just venting," he said.
The attackers might have been planning a propaganda campaign
following the attacks, according to Livingstone. "Maybe their
success was so overwhelming that they didn't need to use this," he
said. "Or they may have decided it was too dangerous to do."
Domain names on the list provided to Livingstone by an industry
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