Since March 23, five important websites on which Al Qaeda promoted its ideals were taken down and experts believe that it’s the result of a cyberattack launched by a country that wants to test its cyber skills.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the short-term impact on Al Qaeda could be great because of the timing of these attacks.
If up until now the sites that tried to lure followers by justifying terrorist acts were hard to terminate because almost immediately another one would appear to replace them, this time it could be a carefully planned maneuver.
“In the long term it doesn't matter because someone will step into this void with their message. But in the short term, it causes a lot of confusion with them. It's a good tactic if you wish to sow even more distrust than is already out there," William McCants, a jihadi research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, said.
Dr McCants reveals that the problems caused for the terrorist organization can’t be neglected because during such outages they will have a hard time moving their sites to other hosts.
While he believes that this could be a great way for foreign spies to analyze the jihad movement, there may be a downside to it.
Those who monitored these forums could have learned of terrorist plans in the making, but now that the sites are down, malicious plots could remain secret.
“Monitoring these sites is a valuable, low cost way to get insights we wouldn't otherwise have. The chat rooms and websites are good indicators to get pointers to into things that might be coming up,” said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert from the US Center for Strategic and International Studies.
So far, only one of the sites has been restored, the others coming back online only for short periods of time.