A Web site allegedly hosting Taleban-related information was hacked overnight, crippling the posting organization's e-mail and raising issues about the responsibilities of service providers in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks.
A Web site allegedly hosting Taleban-related information was hacked
overnight, crippling the organizations communications and re-opening
debate about whether national security concerns outweigh the right to
Web-based free speech.
A hacker who left an e-mail contact with a Russian Federation domain
defaced www.taleban.com, replacing the site with his handle and several
obscene messages surrounding a grainy photograph of Islamic extremist Osama
bin Laden. Bin Laden and his vast international network are reportedly
prime suspects in Tuesdays attacks on the World Trade Center towers and
The Web site is registered to the New York-based Taleban Mission to
the United Nations. Like many other phone numbers in New York, the phone
number to the Taleban Mission was not working, likely because of overloaded
circuits. The hack apparently crippled organizations e-mail
The site, hosted by Atlanta-based Interland, was being taken down this
morning because it is "in violation of our abuse policy," said Barbara
Gibson, the companys vice president of public relations.
Interland was recently purchased by Micron Electric, which runs a large Web hosting
operation focused on small and medium-sized enterprises under the HostPro
brand. The company hosts about 230,000 business-class Web sites and claims
about 130,000 customers.
"When this issue was raised before, at the time, the content of the site
did not violate any laws and we didnt have any legal reason to take it
down," Gibson said. "But we continued to keep an eye on it from time to
time. Today we are taking it down."
Gibson said the site had been hacked, but could not say whether content
generated by its owners had changed to place it in violation of U.S. laws.
"I have no more information," she said.
Executives of other Web hosting organizations expressed high concern about
Interland not removing the Talebans Web site earlier.
Patrick Sweeney, president and CEO of ServerVault, said his company "would
not host a site that supports any terrorist group, much less the
most-wanted terrorist in the free world," bin Laden.
ServerVault is a Web hoster with a high emphasis on security and many
"If I were Interland, I would immediately take [www.taleban.com] down, out
of respect for those killed by recent acts of terrorism. Whether or not
they were propagated by the Taleban-supported groups is irrelevant, the
fact that a technology company is providing a platform to further the work
and communication of that group is intolerable," Sweeney said. "Profiting
from an organization like Taleban, which supports a man who formally
declared war against the U.S. in a 1998 statement, an organization which
denies women the right to vote, attend school or even have access to public
health care is, in essence, taking blood money."