A previous issue of Terrorism Focus exposed a jihadi website dedicated solely to cyber attacks against websites deemed anti-Islamic (Terrorism Focus, October 3, 2006). The members of al-jinan.org have targeted websites critical of Islam and Islamic rituals. They have labeled themselves electronic jihadis and believe that they are engaging in an online form of the jihad. The website distributes a program called Electronic Jihad that assists in overwhelming the servers of certain websites, thereby taking the websites offline, at least temporarily.
To encourage more participation in cyber attacks, the website recently offered more information on their objectives. One section redefines the electronic jihad by saying, “The electronic jihad is the method and the means to inflict maximum human, financial and morale damage on the enemy by using the internet.” The website reiterates the importance of organizing synchronized mass attacks on anti-Islamic websites and calls on fellow jihadis to sign up for the list of targets and to study the techniques and programs used in electronic jihad.
Unlike the first campaign of electronic jihad where participants did not have prior knowledge of the websites that they were attacking until they activated the Electronic Jihad software, the updated main page of al-jinan.org carries domain names of websites to be targeted in coming cyber attacks. Also, the Electronic Jihad software program 1.5 (silver version) has been updated to version 2.0. The new version of the software is easier to use than the old version because, after a few seconds of activation, it updates the targets automatically and is compatible with different internet connection speeds and capable of using different proxies to override government website blocking technology. The new version of Electronic Jihad sets up an account name and password with al-jinan.org for every user. The account registers the number of hours the user spends attacking targets and every two weeks to a month the names of those who scored the highest are posted. Currently, the highest score is claimed by a user nicknamed “George Bush” who spent 4,211.50 hours, or 70 full days, hacking anti-Islamic websites. Other users spent hundreds of hours running the program.
The cyber attack technique operates by sending bundles of data to the target website that require responsive action from the latter, which consequently overloads the website’s server with requests. A successful attack means that the website responds less effectively than it had at the beginning of the attack. The number of hits on the target website appears in a “successful attacks” counter. A failed attack means that the website did not respond to the data requests made by the Electronic Jihad program. One page in al-jinan.org lists the names, current status and links to previously attacked websites. Currently, they claim that they have launched successful attacks against more than 14 websites, labeling them as anti-Islamic and pro-Zionist. They then announced the following websites as targets for the next round of attacks: www.islameyat.com, www.rapsaweyat.com, www.investigateislam.com, www.meca-me.org and www.ladeeni.net. Further, the jihadis have claimed that several host servers acquiesced to their threats and shut down the anti-Islamic website hosted on their servers before any attacks had occurred. They do not provide examples of these instances.
In the past, different jihadi groups practiced cyber attacks on anti-Islamic websites, but they were never able to sustain a long, organized campaign. The new electronic jihad website, al-jinan.org, is not only operating continuously, but it is developing new techniques to enhance the technology and methods of promoting electronic jihad. With the spreading use of the internet in the Arab and Islamic world, the number of users engaged in some form of electronic jihad is likely to increase substantially.