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Home » Hacking News » FBI Raid Severely Disrupted Islamic Net

FBI Raid Severely Disrupted Islamic Net

by Majik on September 9th, 2001 The U.S. Government seriously disrupted worldwide Islamic Internet communications earlier this week, when FBI agents raided the offices of Dallas- based Internet service provider InfoCom Corp., the head of a major Muslim group said today.

"This is an assault and an insult to Muslims in America," Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) told Newsbytes today. "We don't see that there is a good probable cause for this except stereotypes."

At around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, roughly 80 FBI agents entered the InfoCom offices, InfoCom Vice President of Marketing Ghassan Elashi said today. The agents immediately shut down InfoCom's Internet servers, effectively blacking out the company's 500-plus customers.

Among the more than 1,000 Web sites shut down as a result of the raid were a number of popular Islamic portals and news services that serve as important forums for Muslims in the United States and around the world, Awad said.

Sites shut down in the raid included (which Awad called the "CNN" of the Islamic world), as well as sites operated by the U.S. and Canadian Muslim Student Association and the Islamic Society of North America.

Awad said that Muslims living in the U.S. often don't feel properly represented by the mainstream print and broadcast media and as a result rely heavily on the Internet for news and community discussions.

"It provides us as Muslims...with an alternative medium for communicating and expressing ourselves," Awad said.

Because InfoCom hosts so many prominent Muslim-operated Web sites, the FBI raid dealt a heavy blow to Islamic Internet communications in the United States, Awad said.

Elashi said that when the FBI agents raided InfoCom, he asked them to keep the InfoCom servers online while they conducted their search. The FBI agents initially refused, saying that keeping the servers online would create the danger of evidence tampering, Elashi said.

After a meeting later in the day between InfoCom executives and government officials, the FBI relented somewhat, allowing InfoCom to put individual servers back online after agents finished copying their contents. and some other sites went back online about 10 hours after the raid began, but a number of sites remained offline as of this morning, Elashi said.

Neither the FBI, nor any government official told InfoCom officials what they were looking for, or what precipitated the raid, Elashi said, adding that the search warrant used by the agents was "sealed."

Elashi speculated that the government might have acted on accusations leveled against a pair of InfoCom-hosted sites - (operated by the Islamic Association for Palestine) and (operated by the Holy Land Foundation) - by people in the U.S. "anti-terrorist" community.

Elashi and Awad specifically named Steven Emerson, a well-known terrorism pundit, who has testified before several congressional committees and has leveled public accusations that Islamic militants are using the Internet to coordinate international terrorist activities.

Islamic groups have long accused Emerson of Muslim bashing, and deliberately stirring up anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States.

If the FBI was acting on a tip from Emerson, Awad said that government officials have opened a "sad chapter in the history of our country. It takes us back to the McCarthy era."

Dallas FBI officials, who are handling inquiries about the InfoCom case, did not return calls for comment on this story.

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