Al-Qaida Web Site Was Hosted In Phoenix

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Arizona Republic (Phoenix)
February 1, 2008
Pg. 1
By Robert Anglen, Arizona Republic
A Web site used by al-Qaida to recruit car bombers, encourage war on the West and provide a forum for Islamic militants went online from Phoenix this week.
The site, a well-known and popular forum for Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers, was the first to report the death of senior al-Qaida leader Abu Laith al-Libi in Pakistan this week.
The north Phoenix company hosting the site took it down Wednesday, just hours after being contacted by The Arizona Republic.
The Web site,, facilitates discussions on weapons, explosives and propaganda and often serves as a question-and-answer center for terrorists, a review of the Web site shows.
Bob Cichon, president of Phoenix-based CrystalTech Web Hosting Inc., said he was unaware of the site's content when his company posted it earlier this week. He said his company, which hosts thousands of Web sites, has no association with extremists or terrorists.
"We are Americans," he said, adding that his staff had no way to research the Web site because it was in Arabic. "The site is down now."
The incident reflects a recent push by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups to spread their message, often using Internet hosts in the United States. Although private companies can refuse to host any Web site, they often do little to monitor their sites' content.
Cichon said the site was sold to CrystalTech by another company. Computer records show the domain name is owned by a person using the address of another Web-hosting company in California. The company, Dynadot in Palo Alto, declined to provide any information about the person.
The site includes video casts of an American tank being bombed, messages from al-Qaida leaders and forums in which terrorist acts are openly discussed, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit group that tracks and translates Islamic Web sites.
"The Web site has ideological and operations functions. . . . There is information about explosives, training, security and technology," said Eli Alshech, director of the institute's Jihad and Terrorism Studies Project. "It is very closely associated with al-Qaida, if not directly related."
Alshech said the Web site's name is Ikhlas, which means "dedication of faithfulness or dedication to the jihad cause." He said it is one of the most popular Web sites for Middle Eastern extremists and was the first to report the death of Libi, an al-Qaida commander in Pakistan.
Libi, 41, was on the military's most-wanted list and was suspected of planning and executing attacks against the United States, including the bombing of an air base in Afghanistan.
Although the Web site was taken down by the Phoenix hosting company, Alshech said, it has other domain names and hosts around the world that allow it to remain online using various Web addresses.
"It is the most stable jihad Web site," he said, pointing out that the site has had nearly 18 million page hits or viewers, 10 million of which were in the past 10 months.
"The public should be aware of it," he added.
Alshech said the disruption caused by the Phoenix shutdown wouldn't last long.
"It moved from Tampa just a week ago to Arizona," he said. "Let's see where it will pop up next. We'll know tomorrow."
FBI Special Agent Manuel Johnson of Phoenix said his agency is aware of Web sites promoting terrorism but said he could not talk specifically about the Phoenix site because of national-security concerns.
"We investigate specific threats of violence while balancing adherence to constitutional protections," he said. "With the Internet today, there are blogs and Web sites advocating all kinds of matters."
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix did not return calls Thursday.
Among topics recently featured on the Web site:
*Pleas by an al-Qaida operative for Americans to turn against their government.
*Calls for Palestinian militants and Saudi Arabia to attack President Bush with "bombs and traps" during a visit to the Middle East.
*The pros and cons of a terrorist attack in Paris posted by someone calling himself Al-Murabit Al-Muwahhid, or the Monotheistic Jihad Fighter.
*Questions about whether extremists residing in Great Britain can carry out terrorist attacks on British soil.
*An announcement inviting the public to engage in a question-and-answer session with Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, via the Internet.
*Death threats against the family and friends of a conservative Dutch politician and filmmaker who plans to release a film critical of the Quran.
Bill Warner, a Sarasota, Fla., private investigator who has worked with federal agencies on terrorist-related issues, has been tracking terrorist-related Web sites for months.
"The Web sites are a big part of the support network of terrorism financially," he said. "They use the Web sites to request money from the U.S. and the U.K. They ask people to take money to Pakistan."
Warner said he blames Web-hosting companies for failing to monitor content. Instead, he said, they wait until the site is brought to their attention to take action.
"All you've got to do is look," Warner said, pointing to the Phoenix Web site as an example. "You are one click away. First, there is a very benign front page, but all of a sudden, you see tanks being blown up and Osama bin Laden and martyrs. It doesn't matter that you can't read Arabic."