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Privacy United States

Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive 714

prostoalex writes "Alan Cullison covered the events in Afghanistan for Wall Street Journal in late 2001. On the day that Kabul fell Cullison was offered to buy a bunch of computers from a local al-Qaeda office. For $1100 Cullison purchased an IBM desktop and a Compaq laptop. Before giving the hard drives to CIA agents in Afghanistan, Cullison copied the contents and shares some of the electronic messages in September's Atlantic Monthly. Interesting insight on al-Qaeda's financial operations and their merger with Taliban movement. The letters include e-mail messages from Osama bin Laden himself."
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Inside Al-Qaeda's Hard Drive

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:16AM (#9967197)
    Was the large collection of J-Lo pictures. Osama loves da booty.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:17AM (#9967207)
    "All your base are belong to us"
  • Forget the underware thing, just make sure you erase the bloody hard drive before selling your laptop off...
  • Not very useful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lachlan76 ( 770870 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:19AM (#9967222)
    Anything that would have been useful to CIA before wouldn't be know that all this has been made public - any financial information would be useless, since with this online, they would have taken the money out. Intel is really only useful if not everyone knows it.
    • Re:Not very useful (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      WRONG!

      You can use memos, emails etc to connect people and trace paths of communications which lead to... more people! Construct your dependancy map, then identify the hubs/people that need to be removed to cripple an orginization.
    • Re:Not very useful (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Gumpmaster ( 756851 )
      The intel wouldn't be useful in a tactical manner, but operational and strategic use extends far beyond actionable intelligence. Communications intelligence (comint) is vital in deciphering future communications. I'm surprised that the spooks allowed Mr. Cullison to publish this as it allows al-Qaeda to more effectively tailor their communications.
      • If they have any idea what they're doing, they would have changed their keys as soon as they realised the computers were missing.
    • Re:Not very useful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eil ( 82413 )

      Well, why do you think it's just being released now?
    • Re:Not very useful (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cynic10508 ( 785816 )
      Actually, the worst part is anything he passed on is legally inadmissible. I'm guessing he did the copying without using a write-blocker. That effectively tampers with the evidence. Granted, that won't stop the CIA from acting on it.
  • Fake information? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:20AM (#9967232)
    How does he know this wasn't a plant? They've could placed fake plans/email/etc knowing this person would turn it over to authorities and thus throw them off the trail. To make things look even more real, you could lightly erase the data and let the CIA recover it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:21AM (#9967235)
    LMAO!!!11 I iz da best at t3rr0r !!11
    -- Hax0r B1n L4den.
  • 419 (Score:3, Funny)

    by vurg ( 639307 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:23AM (#9967254)
    Reading some of the letters, I kinda feel that the tone and language used seems very similar to those nigerian scam e-mails.
  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:23AM (#9967256)
    This is a bit troubling...

    In 1999 al-Zawahiri undertook a top-secret program to develop chemical and biological weapons, a program he and others referred to on the computer as the "Yogurt" project. Though fearsome in its intent, the program had a proposed start-up budget of only $2,000 to $4,000. Fluent in English and French, al-Zawahiri began by studying foreign medical journals and provided summaries in Arabic for Muhammad Atef, including the one that follows:

    [snip] The enemy started thinking about these weapons before WWI. Despite their extreme danger, we only became aware of them when the enemy drew our attention to them by repeatedly expressing concerns that they can be produced simply with easily available materials [snip]



    That's either incredibly crazy, or scary, or both.
    • Its both.

      In the "real flesh-and-bones world" security thorugh obsecurity is sometimes good.
    • The early war gases were mostly Chlorine, which is not hard to make [darwinawards.com].
    • So we drew their attention to the fact that bio and chem weapons can be produced simply with easily available materials.

      If that is correct that wmds are that easy to build, we should acknowledge that and adapt to the threat.

      Simply put, if we did keep quiet the terrorists would eventually figure it out anyways. Security through obscurity doesnt work. open source anti terrorism.
      • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 )
        If that is correct that wmds are that easy to build, we should acknowledge that and adapt to the threat. Simply put, if we did keep quiet the terrorists would eventually figure it out anyways. Security through obscurity doesnt work. open source anti terrorism.

        Actually Nuclear devices are relatively easy to build compared to the problem of obtaining the enriched uranium or plutonium required. So they are well within the capability of most medium capability industrial nations. Fortunately they are well out

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by LGagnon ( 762015 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:33AM (#9967308)
      Dubya put it best:
      "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by zulux ( 112259 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:38AM (#9967676) Homepage Journal
        The quote is rather amusing.
        However, it looses it's school-yard amusement when placed in it full context

        "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.We must never stop thinking about how best to defend our country. We must always be forward-thinking"

        Basically.. Bush is saying that in order to prepare for an attack against a vulnerability we must fist identify that very vulnerability ourselves.

        I do this all the time when securing my networks and computer - I ask my self "how would I attack my own system."
        • Re:Wow (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dave420 ( 699308 )
          Yes, basically Bush is saying that, but as a President, he should be saying it more accurately. He did specifically state that the administration is actively trying to figure out how to harm the people, not protect them. Great.
    • Insights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:47AM (#9967375) Journal
      The letters quoted in the article give interesting insights into the mindset of these terrorists. This is something quite different and much deeper than the simple-minded rhetoric that President Bush and the rest of his administration chant again and again: 'They are evil, they hate freedom, they want to destroy our way of life.'

      For instance, take this extract from a letter written by Ramzi bin al-Shibh (written after the Afghan invasion, but before the Iraqi invasion):

      Because of Saddam and the Baath Party, America punished a whole population. Thus its bombs and its embargo killed millions of Iraqi Muslims. And because of Osama bin Laden, America surrounded Afghans and bombed them, causing the death of tens of thousands of Muslims ... God said to assault whoever assaults you, in a like manner ... In killing Americans who are ordinarily off limits, Muslims should not exceed four million non-combatants, or render more than ten million of them homeless. We should avoid this, to make sure the penalty [that we are inflicting] is no more than reciprocal. God knows what is best.

      And then there is this, written by Bin Laden himself:

      Our current battle is against the Jews. Our faith tells us we shall defeat them, God willing. However, Muslims find that the Americans stand as a protective shield and strong supporter, both financially and morally. The desert storm that blew over New York and Washington should, in our view, have blown over Tel Aviv. The American position obliged Muslims to force the Americans out of the arena first to enable them to focus on their Jewish enemy. Why are the Americans fighting a battle on behalf of the Jews? Why do they sacrifice their sons and interests for them?

      Now, of course there is no denying that the mindset behind all this is evil. But it is rational in its twisted way. There are specific and clear reasons for why these people commit acts of terrorism. By absolutely refusing to face these reasons, America and its allies risks alienating every single militant Muslim in the world, little by little. Why are the real reasons behind terrorism so rarely discussed?

      • Re:Insights (Score:2, Insightful)

        by danheskett ( 178529 )
        There are specific and clear reasons for why these people commit acts of terrorism.
        OF course there are.

        Why are the real reasons behind terrorism so rarely discussed?
        Because it can only lead to one thing: lame appeasement attempts.

        We have known from day #1 that the Arab terrorists attempting to attack America hate us for specific reasons: kicking Sadaam Hussein out of Kuwait; propping up and supporting financially and militarily the country of Israel.

        Make no mistake about it. If we hadn't been s
        • Re:Insights (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @12:08PM (#9967851) Homepage
          We have known from day #1 that the Arab terrorists attempting to attack America hate us for specific reasons: kicking Sadaam Hussein out of Kuwait; propping up and supporting financially and militarily the country of Israel.

          As a matter of history Bin Laden wanted to kick Saddam out of Kewait himself. One of the reasons that Fahd did not want him to do that was that if he had been successful Bin Laden would have first set himself up as ruler, then set about taking over Saud and Iraq.

          Bin Laden is utterly irrelevant in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute. It is one of the issues he uses to attract and energize followers but it is like the GOP opposition to gay marriage, they really could not give a hoot about the issue but it makes a handy wedge. Bin Laden's real complaint is that the US is not likely to allow him to take over Saudi Arabia and replace the corrupt house of Saud with a looney theocracy.

          Make no mistake about it. If we hadn't been supporting Israel for the last two generations the neighboring Muslims would have killed every single Jew there.

          Again not true since the US did not actually start supporting Israel until the early 60s. During the Suez affair the US was actually opposing Israel and the UK. The close connection of US/Israeli interests is actually much more recent dating to the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

          From a military perspective Israel could probably survive. But from an economic perspective the Israeli economy would not last very long without US support.

          Make no mistake about it. If we hadn't been supporting Israel for the last two generations the neighboring Muslims would have killed every single Jew there. That's their goal. Elimination of the jews. Period. So okay, we acknowledge it. Now what? Are we going to stand by and watch the billion Muslims destroy the sixty million Jews?

          Again completely failing to understand the situation. The issue for the Palestinians is that in 1948 the majority of them were forced out of what became Israel by what the serbs called ethnic cleansing. Then after the 1967 war the remaining Palestinian territories were invaded by Israel which has occupied them since and has been illegally attempting to annex them through the settler movement.

          Most of the Palestinians are Muslim but a significant minority are actually Christian.

          The problem with Israel is that you can't have a democratic Jewish state any more than you can have a democratic white people's state or a democratic Christian state. There is a whole rack of discriminatory legislation that makes Arab Israeli citizens second class. For example only Jews are allowed to build in Jerusalem. Palestinans simply do not get building permission.

          Israel has turned itself ito an appartheid state. Unfortunately for them there is no Nelson Mandela, Arafat is more of a Mugabwe type.

          Sure Isreal can hold onto the occupied territories indefinitely, sure the Jim Crow discrimination against Palestinians can be maintained. But it can't do that and be a democracy.

          This is why even Sharon has seen the need to withdraw from the Gaza strip and parts of the West Bank.

          Sure folk can argue that dismantling the Jim Crow discrimination against Palestinians in Israel would be 'giving in to terrorists'. But would it have been wrong to end Jim Crow in the US South if the civil rights movement had been violent?

          In the end the obvious solution is to annex the West Bank and Gaza and grant citizenship to everyone who lives there. Sure it will no longer be a 'Jewish' state, but it will be better than what there is today.

          • Re:Insights (Score:5, Informative)

            by wass ( 72082 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @03:00PM (#9969252)
            I'll probably be modded to hell for actually contradicting some of your anti-Israel FUD, but oh well, bye bye Karma.

            From a military perspective Israel could probably survive. But from an economic perspective the Israeli economy would not last very long without US support.

            Not necessarily, most of Israel's trading is done with Europe. Most of the US support for Israel isn't comes in the form of military aid, and most of that goes directly back into the US economy anyway, to build jets, radars, etc.

            Israel barely survived the 1973 Yom Kippur War sneak attack by its Arab neighbors, and the UN didn't even do anything until after Israel pushed the invading forces back and beyond into their own territory. Israel had to win every war against it, one loss would be it's utter demise. US weaponry would give Israel an edge and help prevent further attacks by it's neighbors. Statistically speaking, further Yom Kippur style Wars probably would have eventually destroyed Israel without US military support.

            The issue for the Palestinians is that in 1948 the majority of them were forced out of what became Israel by what the serbs called ethnic cleansing.

            Tell a lie enough times it becomes true. Most Palestinians actually voluntarily left, at the urging of their Arab neighbors, to get out of the way of the invading Arab armies, and then move back after the Jews are defeated. It is estimated only about 1/3 of the Arabs actually were forced out.

            That statistic in itself, however, doesn't describe how to treat those refugees and their descendents today.

            And similarly, anti-Israel folks like yourself ignore the similar number of Jews that were forced out of Arab countries, or "ethnically-cleansed" since you prefer that terminology. However, since they were welcomed by Israel, they seem to lose refugee status and suddenly become the 'bad guys' because they're now Israeli.

            Then after the 1967 war the remaining Palestinian territories were invaded by Israel which has occupied them since and has been illegally attempting to annex them through the settler movement.

            Bullshit, there was every reason to expect Egypt, Jordan, and Syria to invade and you know it. If Israel didn't sneak attack it would most likely cease to exist today.

            Plus, you mention the occupation, and conveniently ignore that prior to this, West Bank was occupied by Jordan, and Gaza was occupied by Egypt. Why, then, weren't these occupations fought against? Why did Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, and Palestinians all focus their attacks against Israelis? Why didn't the Palestinians EVER ONCE fight their Egyptian or Jordanian occupation?

            The problem with Israel is that you can't have a democratic Jewish state any more than you can have a democratic white people's state or a democratic Christian state.

            True enough, and similarly you can't have it any more than a non-racist Muslim state. So if you think it's bad for Israel to be a Jewish state then you must simultaneously condemn every single Muslim state, both Arab and non-Arab.

            There is a whole rack of discriminatory legislation that makes Arab Israeli citizens second class.

            Hey, don't stop there, why not talk about similar legislation that makes Jews second class citizens in some other states. Jews are specifically forbidden to be citizens of Jordan. If Israel made a similar law for Muslims there'd be worldwide condemnation, but no condemnation goes for Jordan.

            Let's look at the PA. I bet you're not aware that it is illegal under penalty of death for any Palestinian to sell land to any Jew. Period. Note - not Israeli, but JEW. Why doesn't any human rights champion condemn this? It seems only Israel is the violator of human rights in the region.

            Israel has turned itself ito an appartheid state.

            It wasn't Israel turning itself that way, it was the actions BOTH of Israel and its Arab neighbors that led to the situatio

      • Re:Insights (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:03AM (#9967448)
        Why are the real reasons behind terrorism so rarely discussed?

        It's really very simple: dehumanizing the enemy. If you make your enemies out to be less than human, then there will be few objections to slaughtering them.

        • Re:Insights (Score:5, Insightful)

          by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @12:43PM (#9968039)
          There is misperception and dehumanization on all sides. For instance, assuming most Americans don't already know that the terrorists have their reasons. Assuming that if John Q Public had a clue, everthing would be different. Assuming that flagwaving carries a vacuous message, somehow ignoring the fact that perhaps we've thought through the issue and come to the conclusion those who attacked us are wrong and must be stopped.

          You didn't think our protection of the Jews was at issue - what did you think is was then? They don't like our oil money?

          The terrorists' reasons are so rarely discussed simply because we've made up our minds that they're wrong. Most of us are not open-minded about whether democracy or Islamic rule is the better system. (Yes, I used the word "better").

          So the question becomes not whether to act, but how to act. And on that point, you'll notice, there has been a LOT of thought and debate. In fact it's a central issue of the presidental campaign.

      • Re:Insights (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Archibald Buttle ( 536586 ) <steve_sims7@yaho ... k minus math_god> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:09AM (#9967483)
        If I had some mod-points today you would definitely get one for insightful.

        The real reasons behind terrorism are rarely discussed because they are complex. Terrorists are hardly ever crazed madmen, despite what Bush might insist upon. They are people with a grievance, but they choose to stand their ground in a way that many people find to be morally wrong. Suicide bombers don't want to kill themselves, rather they feel they have no alternative.

        The big problem with questioning the reasons behind terrorism is that it might show that we are doing something wrong - that we are bringing terrorism upon ourselves. Those that do genuinely and honestly question the reasons behind terrorism already know that this is the case.

        The two quotes that you made clearly show that America has been doing something wrong in the eyes of the terrorists. We need to question the validity of their position, and do that in an intelligent manner without instantly rejecting their position. We also need to question the validity of the position that our governments are taking too.

        This debate raises some very difficult questions which few politicians are willing to answer, since it tends to expose the immorality and inconsistency of their own position.
        • Re:Insights (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Vlad_the_Inhaler ( 32958 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:38AM (#9967674) Homepage
          The real reasons behind terrorism are rarely discussed because they are complex. Terrorists are hardly ever crazed madmen, despite what Bush might insist upon. They are people with a grievance, but they choose to stand their ground in a way that many people find to be morally wrong. Suicide bombers don't want to kill themselves, rather they feel they have no alternative.

          The big problem with questioning the reasons behind terrorism is that it might show that we are doing something wrong - that we are bringing terrorism upon ourselves. Those that do genuinely and honestly question the reasons behind terrorism already know that this is the case.


          My understanding is that Osama bin Laden was originally fighting the Saudi royal house over their perceived decadence and their alliance with non-believers. This position intensified when the Saudis allowed US troops into the country (defiling sacred ground) in the run up to the first US / Iraq Gulf War.

          Their first major attacks against the US were those bombings in E Africa, killing around 270 of whom around 10% (?) were Americans.

          What were the other 90%? Primitive black savages who did not count in the larger scheme of things?

          Al Qaeda are basically a load of racist religous fanatics. Sorry, I see no common ground there, no reason to compromise and no particular reason to take their views into account. Al Qaeda were pretty much isolated both before and then even more after 9/11. There are claims that Mullah Omar was offering them on a plate to the US if the price was right, and Iran - one of the few Islamic governments in the region with some claim to popular legitimacy - was offering the US their sympathy and support.

          Do you really think that the 9/11 pilots and support crews felt they had no alternative? Bollox.
          • Re:Insights (Score:4, Insightful)

            by philbert26 ( 705644 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#9967775)
            Their first major attacks against the US were those bombings in E Africa, killing around 270 of whom around 10% (?) were Americans.

            Bin Laden was also indicted by the feds for the 1993 WTC bombing. It's not clear if he personally organized it, or if an allied group acted independently.

            Interestingly, 1993 was also the year of the Oslo accords, for which Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres shared the Nobel peace prize. So anyone who thinks that Al-Qaeda are going to close down if we achieve peace between Israel and Palestine should think very hard about exactly what "peace" they have in mind. Chances are it's quite different to the "peace" envisioned by Al-Qaeda.

          • Re:Insights (Score:3, Insightful)

            Al Qaeda are basically a load of racist religous fanatics.

            So is the republican party...

            Sorry, I see no common ground there

            Maybe not, but there sure is a common mindset.

            no reason to compromise and no particular reason to take their views into account.

            So, what you propose then? Death to the indfidels?
            If you do not take their views into account, what other course of action do you have besides total anihilation?
        • Re:Insights (Score:4, Insightful)

          by philbert26 ( 705644 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:46AM (#9967717)
          Suicide bombers don't want to kill themselves, rather they feel they have no alternative.

          If that were true, would they need the incentive of 70 virgins?

        • Re:Insights (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Omestes ( 471991 ) <omestes@gmaiMENCKENl.com minus author> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @01:02PM (#9968217) Homepage Journal
          Yeah, my first thoughts on 9/11 was the US would learn a lesson and adopt a sane policy with Israel, and the rest of the world. But instead we just got more "Great Satan"-esque, engendering more ill will, and raising a whole new generation of terrorists who (rightfully in their eyes) hate us. This was impart made real by the idiot governer of NY turning down money from Jordon, just because they said our support of a genocidal illegitimate regime was a partial cause of the attacks.

          One of my freinds almost got kicked out of a poli-sci course, because she wrote a paper after 9/11 that said that the terrorists had some legitimate greivances, and weren't just raving mad-men who blew up some buildings because the don't like american boobies. I've gotten screamed at because I think that we are a partial cause, and can understand the terrorist POV. We're too big and powerful to fight a conventional war with, their too small and disjointed to organize one. We should realize that our globalistic aims, cultural imperialism, and support for nasty governments should stop, or terrorism will always be an increasing issue.

          Now, mind, I'm not supporting them, killing civilians is never justified, or acceptable, no matter what your cause is. Murdering innocents is always a reprehensible act, and there is no rational justification for that.
          • Re:Insights (Score:3, Insightful)

            by red floyd ( 220712 )

            Yeah, my first thoughts on 9/11 was the US would learn a lesson and adopt a sane policy with Israel, and the rest of the world.

            This analogy is not exact, but... when a child throws a tantrum, you don't give him what he wants, as it only encourages more tantrums.

            So, you are proposing that the target of the tantrum give the tantrum thrower what he wants.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:56AM (#9967411)
      I found it darkly humorous. Since 9/11 the western media + U.S. 'homeland security' has been spuoting all kinds of usefull ideas for terrorists. For instance; attacking ferries, spreading hoof'n'mouth disease, and attacking the power grid. Put thousands of journalists to work tryng to sell papers and you've created an AQ think tank.

      It's that fact that makes this era so dangerous, as it leading to laws being passed to restrict information and freedoms. :-(

  • by jjh37997 ( 456473 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:26AM (#9967264) Homepage
    The funny thing is the notes on the computer indicate they never even thought of using chemical weapons because they thought it would be too complicated. It wasn't until the American government began making public statements about how easy it would be for certain rouge nations to make simple but deadly chemical weapons, like mustard gas, they they started working on these projects!
    • by aelbric ( 145391 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:35AM (#9967318)
      Just a comment to all. THe date on the e-mail, if true, about chemical weapons is April 15, 1999. Mr. Clinton was in office. The big one hit on Mr. Bush's watch. So the next time someone says George Bush did this or Bill Clinton did that and it made the situation worse, remember this.

      The terrorists don't give a damn about who's in office. They have been planning all this for many years. Bush or Kerry is irrelevant in the long-term as long as whomever is elected find a permanent solution to this one way or another.
      • Bush or Kerry is irrelevant in the long-term

        Bush is certainly willing to deprive Americanns of their liberties, though. It's irrelevant who is in office in terms of whether or not an attack is launched - but certainly not in terms of its results on our society.

        • by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:09AM (#9967484)
          It's irrelevant who is in office in terms of whether or not an attack is launched - but certainly not in terms of its results on our society.

          You're right, but you neglect to mention the reason: Supreme Court appointments. Whoever is President in the next four years will very likely get to nominate two or three new SC justices. The justices that are likely to be retire or die (O'Connor, Stevens, ...) are also some of the more liberal justices. The SC is pretty well balanced at the moment. Give Bush the opportunity, and he will appoint conservative, anti-abortion justices who will affect the nation for decades to come. Just something to keep in mind if you support Bush but you're not a fundamentalist Christian.

        • How quickly Clinton's damage to liberties and freedoms in the name of the War on Drugs is forgotten.
          • It's not forgotten, only written off as the status quo. The reps and dems both push the war on drugs because to do otherwise is political suicide, and one of the (many) reasons the libertarian party does not have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell at taking the presidency. The poverty industry depends on the war on drugs. Without the WoD the federal government would not have a chance to siphon huge piles of money from the approximately $20 billion dollars spent per year on this travesty - Another $20
      • You are entirely correct regarding the terrorists' impetus for launching the sept 11 attacks. Unfortunately, the unilateral attack on Iraq has worked to give terrorists an even bigger rallying call against the US. Had we been part of a real UN effort, the Islamicists would be angry at the 'west'. In the current environment, they're able to point their hatred at the United States.

        This war against terrorism is frighteningly similar to the war on drugs. It's misguided and poorly implemented and doomed to be

      • by dalutong ( 260603 ) <djtansey&gmail,com> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @12:46PM (#9968054)
        I don't agree with the statement "bush or kerry doesn't matter."

        I have just spent about 6 months on and off over the past two years in the greater middle east. I have also traveled to a few countries elsewhere (China, some Europe, etc.) The feeling I get is that there is a real population of people who are very angry at america for what it is doing presently but still distinguishes between what the government is doing and what the american people feel. I have heard many tell me, "I don't hate you. you're just a person. I hate your government. I hate bush. I hate what he is doing." Then they'll elaborate.

        I have a feeling that the reelection of Bush would thin the line between our government and our people. It would demonstrate that we approve of what he is doing and then these people, let's call them the world's swing voters, will swing the wrong way. At the very least it would allow the persuaders to say, "see! the american people are the same as Bush!"

        I think that a vote for Kerry, however, would demonstrate that the American people are in fact different than the government and that the people keep it in check. Of course there will be examples a-plenty as to why we are "evil," but I really think that a lot of the people I have met who have made comments like this are waiting to see if indeed we are one in the same. And they think this election will be the test.

        Just my .02
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:32AM (#9967305)
    From: Osama Bin Laden
    Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 12:53 PM
    Subject: TRANSFER

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am fine today and how are you? I hope this letter will find you in the best of health. I am Osama Bin Laden, the Chairman of the "Down with the West Committee", of "Al Qaeda (AQ)", a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian sanctioned Groups (SASG).

    Al Qaeda (AQ) was set up by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha who died on 18th June 1998, to manage the excess revenue accruing from the sales of Opium and its allied products as a domestic increase in the piate products to develop the communities in the Afghani poppy producing areas. The estimated annual revenue for 1999 was $45 Billion US Dollars Ref. FMF A26 Unit 3B Paragraph "D" of the Auditor General of the Muslim Republic of Afghanistan Report of Nov. 1999 on estimated revenue.

    I am the Chairman of the Contract Award Committee, and my committee is solely responsible for awaiting and paying of contracts on behalf of the Talibani Government. My Committee Awarded Contracts to foreign contractors for Irrigation and Ecological Matters in the poppy producing areas of Afghanistan. We overshot the contract sum by US$25,000,000.00. We have paid the contractors and withholding the balance of US$25,000, 000.00. But, because of the existence of some of the domestic laws forbidding civil servants in Afghanistan from opening, operating and maintaining foreign accounts, we do not have the expertise to transfer this balance of fund to a foreign account.

    However, this balance of US$25,000, 000.00 has been secured in form of Credit/Payment to a foreign contractor, hence we wish to transfer into your bank account as the beneficiary of the fund. We have also arrived at a conclusion that you will be given 20% of the total sum transferred as our foreign partner, while 5% will be reserved for incidental expenses that both parties will incur in the course of actualizing this transaction, and the balance of 75% will be kept for the committee members.

    If you know that you will be capable of helping us actualize this transaction, you should send to me immediately the details of your bank particulars or open a new bank account where we can transfer the money US$25,000, 000.00, which you will be holding in trust for us until we come to your country for our share. Your nature of business does not matter in this transaction. The required details includes your company's name, address, your private personal telephone/fax numbers, your full name and address, including your complete bank details where the transferred fund will be routed by the Apex Bank.

    Note that this transaction is expected to be actualized within 21 working days from the day the required details are forwarded to the Federal Ministry of Finance who will approve the needed foreign exchange control allocation for the release of this money to your account. Please, treat this as top secret. You should contact me urgently.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    Yours faithfully,

    Osama Bin Laden.
  • by cagle_.25 ( 715952 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:34AM (#9967312) Journal
    Does anyone else find it remarkable that he just happened to find a computer belonging to al-Zawahiri in a room that had Mohammed Atef's name over the door. And how did the looter know that
    Each day, he said, Atef would walk into the office carrying the laptop in its black case.?
    Cool story, if true; but I suspect that A. Monthly got 0wned by this journalist.
    • If the story *is* true, then it's an embarrassment to the CIA that a journalist in a flea market did something that they should have been doing.
  • by emeitner ( 513842 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:34AM (#9967316) Homepage Journal
    To: The American People
    From: Osama bin Laden
    Folder: Publications
    Date: October 3, 2001


    So what exatly is the email address for "The American People?" I mean, if the found email had that as the address book name, what was the address listed?

    Seriously, I think this could very well be a well executed plant. Be assured that the Office of Special Plans [wikipedia.org] is still hard at work.
  • by weeboo0104 ( 644849 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:38AM (#9967333) Journal
    hELLO,
    This may come as a surprise to you, since we have never done business before. I am the son of a wealthy Saudi family who due to an invading army, need help accessing OVER 40 BILLION DOLLARS US.
    For your kind assistance in helping me recover my families money, I am wiling to off4er you %10 of the total funds. Doens' t that sound nice? PleaSe respond as soon as possable with a phone number and a email address that we can correspond with to get you your money. To begin this process, I will only require a sum of $4000 to release my funds from the Government of Afganistan.

    Best wishes!
    Osama bin Laden Mobutu
  • Not Encrypted? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I would have thought that they, being so organised and all, would have used really strong encryption on their computers. Also, would they not see any conflict of interests in using US company computers and US software?
  • by earthforce_1 ( 454968 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `1_ecrofhtrae'> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @10:41AM (#9967354) Journal
    Some of this gives me the creeps knowing that I was living in Ottawa at the time. This underscores why the US embassy there resembles a fortress. Unfortunately, if they had decided to strike there, it would probably be the only thing left standing in a 2 block radius. Maybe the Israelis would be interesting in moving into the Diefenbunker. (The WW3 nuclear bomb shelter built just out of town by a former PM, since abanoned by the canadian gov't and turned into a museum)

    - - - - - - -

    To: Real name unknown
    From: Unknown
    Folder: Hamza
    Date: August 23, 2001

    Special file for our brother Abu Bakr al-Albani ["the Albanian"] on the nature of his mission.

    First, the mission: Gather information on:

    1. Information on American soldiers who frequent nightclubs in the America-Canada border areas

    2. The Israeli embassy, consulate, and cultural center in Canada

    3. If it is possible to enter America and gather information on American soldier checkpoints, or on the American army in the border areas inside America

    4. Information on the possibility of obtaining explosive devices inside Canada ...

    I have given to our brother $1,500 for travel expenses in Canada and America, and also the cost of the ticket for the trip back to us after four months, God willing.

  • by ites ( 600337 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:03AM (#9967444) Journal
    Terrorists kill 4000 in order to launch a war that they can feed off. If Western civil society had simply condemned the act, given the Taliban 30 days to deliver the criminals and been very careful to not kill a single innocent civilian, Al Quaeda would have been ostracised by their own support base. By launching two wars against "terror", Western civil society has guaranteed Al Quaeda a place in history and guaranteed a generation or two of on-going fighting that will cause the deaths of many, many more people.

    I think every country faced with local terrorists has learnt through bitter experience that force does not solve this kind of problem. Dialogue and negotiation are always, finally, the only way to end the cycle of violence.

    This lesson has been learnt by the British in Northern Ireland, by the Spanish in the Basque Country, by the French in Sardinia, the Sri Lankans... it does not matter how "evil" the men with guns are. Nothing short of genocide - and even that is not certain - will stop more embittered and manipulated youths growing up to fill the gaps left by arrest, detention, assassination. /me expects to be burnt for saying this but it must be said.
    • by maelstrom ( 638 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:17AM (#9967540) Homepage Journal
      You mean like we did after the Khobar tower bombings, the Kenya Embassy bombings, the USS Cole Bombing, and the downing of Black Hawks in Somalia? Every time we did not effectively respond to this terrorist group made them think that America was a paper tiger and further emboldened them.

      But I guess you believe in peace in our time...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:28AM (#9967620)
      If Western civil society had simply condemned the act, given the Taliban 30 days to deliver the criminals and been very careful to not kill a single innocent civilian, Al Quaeda would have been ostracised by their own support base.

      In case you hadn't noticed, we did ask the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden and other al-Queda persons residing within Afghanistan.

      They sort of refused.

      Then we sort of got medieval on their asses.

      Not like we went from 0 to medieval in 60 seconds. We gave then several weeks to do the right thing. They chose to not do the right thing. Big mistake on their part.
    • by ewn ( 538392 ) <ernst-udo.wallenborn@freenet.de> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:36AM (#9967664) Homepage
      If Western civil society had simply condemned the act, given the Taliban 30 days to deliver the criminals and been very careful to not kill a single innocent civilian, Al Quaeda would have been ostracised by their own support base.

      Actually, that's pretty much what the US did. It asked the Taliban to extradite Bin Laden or else. The Taliban said no, and the US answered "OK, then else." War followed.

      This lesson has been learnt by the British in Northern Ireland, by the Spanish in the Basque Country, by the French in Sardinia,

      Get a map. Sardinia is Italian.

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @01:30PM (#9968541)
      "If Western civil society had simply condemned the act, given the Taliban 30 days to deliver the criminals"

      Was a week not long enough? What about the requests for extradition for acts before September 2001, such as the bombing of the African embassies?

      "And been very careful to not kill a single innocent civilian, Al Quaeda would have been ostracised by their own support base."

      Why? Because we bent over backwards to suit their double standard? It is not enough to try our best to prevent those innocent deaths, even when compared to the al Qaeda tactics that deliberately target civillians? And this is before we get into the nasty details over disagreements over just who was a civillian and who was not (such as "devout worshippers" at a holy cite that were operating a piece of equipment that "just happened" to look and operate like an anti-aircraft battery...)

      And what reason is there to believe that, even if we did meet that double standard, al Qaeda would loose support?

      "Western civil society has guaranteed Al Quaeda a place in history and guaranteed a generation or two of on-going fighting that will cause the deaths of many, many more people."

      And what if Western inaction would have caused the deaths of many more? Which was worse for Afghanistan, outside military intervention in 2001, or a decade under the Taliban? Is it better that those people die by the hands of their countrymen, even if more people die and in far uglier ways?

      "I think every country faced with local terrorists has learnt through bitter experience that force does not solve this kind of problem. Dialogue and negotiation are always, finally, the only way to end the cycle of violence."

      So, instead of giving Timothy McVeigh a lethal injection we should simply have had a talk with him and then let him go about his business?

      "This lesson has been learnt by the British in Northern Ireland, by the Spanish in the Basque Country, by the French in Sardinia, the Sri Lankans" ... Or by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, or by the Shia in Iraq, or...

      "Nothing short of genocide - and even that is not certain - will stop more embittered and manipulated youths growing up to fill the gaps left by arrest, detention, assassination."

      Even if those doing the manipulations are wrong? Is the majority always right?
  • I smell a rat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spisska ( 796395 )
    While there may be some truth the the story of how Cullison acquired these computers, I highly doubt the CIA would simply let him publish the information the HDs contained.

    They have special rooms in Cuba for people who disseminate this kind of material.

    Which means that the stuff published was vetted (and probably carefully rewritten) by the CIA. To what end, I don't know. But rest assured, there is nothing in the article that you (or the bad guys) are not meant to see.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:13AM (#9967511)
    I'm almost 3/4's of the way done reading through the article when this line struck me:

    The UN imposes all sorts of penalties on all those who contradict its religion. It issues documents and statements that openly contradict Islamic belief, such as the International Declaration for Human Rights, considering all religions are equal, and considering that the destruction of the statues constitutes a crime ...

    It's interesting that I had a lively debate during lunch a few days back with a colleague about religions and what they mean in the modern world. Mind you, a healthy unbiased debate, not an argument.

    I happened to mention that I think that all religions are equal, atleast at a higher level (as in if you ignore the minor details like forms of worship, etc) and that I think that they were created with a common goal of imposing "morality" and the "good" way of life back when law and order were difficult to maintain. The fear of God was a common deterrant to "bad" or "immoral" behavior.

    I agree that many people find this view in contrast to the traditional beliefs of religions being God's word, but I just put forth the point since this was a debate, and I wanted to hear his opinion on it.

    What I found troubling was that his *main* disagreement with what I said was the former part - the part about "all religions being equal" in the long run or from a high level. He (being a fundamentalist Christian) was totally revolted by the idea that I would say that the belief that "God is One" is the same as believing in the "Trinity". I tried explaining that those are exactly the sort of differences that people look at (in addition to form of worship etc) to argue against the inferiority of other religions, when it doesn't really matter, since all of them teach us to pray and have faith, and behave in a "good" way.

    Well, I didn't get through, and the next day, he presented me a book (which I found quite outrageous) published by a campus Church group explaining why "religions are different" and how "they'll all find salvation at the feet of Christ". How can you hope to write a so called unbiased book, if your conclusion is that they'll be "Saved" only if they follow Christianity?.

    Anyway, the point which I had wanted to make is that there are a *surprisingly* large number of people who refuse to believe that the best service to their religion that they can probably do is to increase tolerance towards other religions rather than denounce them and try to proselytize the masses under the guise of "saving them". I've personally seen Christian, as well as Muslim missionaries and other entities offer food/clothing and money to poorer people in Africa etc so as to convert them to their religions, *all* the while preaching that they won't be saved otherwise.

    So ANY religious fundamentalism is bad, not JUST Islamic fundamentalism or Christian fundamentalism, or fundamentalism under the guise of any other religion. Hey, if you want to believe strongly in something, you're free to do so, but don't try to change my thinking or impose it upon me.

    Sorry for the rant.

    • While I agree to your conclusion, that Religious Fundamentalism is a bad thing, I am not convinced that all religions are ultimately the same thing.

      IANAT, I am not a Theologist, just had a bit of religion in high-school. I don't believe in a God FWIW.

      1. Primitive religions are vastly different from Christianity. This hardly needs to be justified.

      2. Judaism is a "law-religion" at it's base, something Jesus expressly underscored that Christianity is not. All ethical guidelines from the Old testament were i
  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:29AM (#9967626)
    FROM: Ali '1st Thief" Baba
    TO : Osama 'Yo Mama' bin Laden
    Subject: Training

    Oh! Supreme one! We are in the midst of training our latest round of recruits to service in the holy Jihad against the Infidels! We are proud to announce that shortly we shall have the capacity to completely undermine the ability of the Infidel Armies to wage war effectively:

    1) It has come to our attention that many of the Infidels train for war electronically, using common-off-the-shelf games that we can obtain in various Indonesian markets for less than $1 per computer. These games are extremely popular within the Infidel youth community. "Operation Wall-Hack" is my proposal to train our operatives to use techniques frowned up by their youth community, although they are the same to create these tools, to produce a formidable, unbeatable force of Counter Strike experts. God willing, we will demoralize the youth of the Infidels, and they shall throw themselves in front of their parent's Four Wheeled Drive vehicles. Praise Allah!

    2) Our operatives have discovered that Email is the #1 method of communication within the Infidel community. Our operatives have discovered on a secret, underground website called "Slashdot" that "Spam" is a growing problem that cripples the Infidel's ability to successfully utilize this medium. Through divine inspiration from Allah, I have come up with "Operation SPAM", where we will open up full time spam mailing facilities in the countries that still welcome us and we will flood the mail servers of the world with useless junk! Infidel Economies will grind to a standstill! Office workers will gnash their teeth, System Administrators will pull their hair from the roots and staple their eyes shut from the flood of junk email! I propose that we invest $499 for a server from the Infidel company Dell to begin investigating this immediately.

    3. The Infidels have concocted a curious form of support for their technology. They utilize large numbers of people to man telephone stations that attempt to answer technical questions that customers of these technology companies may have in the repair, maintainence, and usage of their machines. I propose "Operation OutSource" to your holiness, to aid in our fight against the Infidels! We shall open up telephone support centers in our friendly nations and underbid the Indians to gain the business of giant Infidel corporations and provide substandard support to the Infidel industry! The Infidel productivity levels will grind to nothing! And they will PAY us for the privilege! If you are concerned that our lack of technology infrastructure and education will prevent us from providing adequate levels of support for these companies, do not fear. The current support providers don't know anything about computers, either! The hapless users will throw themselves off of their Infidel skyscrapers in madness, Allah Willing! Praise Allah!

    4) We have learned a new codespeak for our communications. It is called "L33t Sp34k" and is considered to be one of the strongest encryption codes ever produced when combined with GNUPG (I am sorry to hear of your confusion regarding this product, did you read the man pages?). I highly recommend that we teach this method to all of our agents in the field.

    As you can see, your Supremacy, we have the potential to completely revolutionize the way "The War" is fought. Allah willing, we shall overcome the Infidels and regain control of Palestine! Praise Allah!

    -Ali Baba
  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <spam@NOSPAM.pbp.net> on Saturday August 14, 2004 @11:46AM (#9967722) Homepage
    "This was the man who that December would take $1,100 from me in exchange for two of al-Qaeda's most valuable computers--a 40-gigabyte IBM desktop and a Compaq laptop. He had stolen them from al-Qaeda's central office in Kabul on November 12, the night before the city fell to the Northern Alliance. He wanted the money, he said, so that he could travel to the United States and meet some American girls."
    The dude has his priorities straight, that's for sure. :D
  • about "Danni's Hard Drive", the porno site where the chick is always on the Howard Stern show?

    I had this image of naked Afghanis in veils...
  • by Manip ( 656104 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @01:10PM (#9968326)
    From someone that has copied several drives, I how it works. I would like to ask how he managed to recover deleted e-mails if this was a copy of the original computer files? When you copy something, in general only files not marked with the 'deleted' or 'removed' tag are copied (To speed things up). So unless he used some kind of low level copying function and based on his technical know-how, I'm not sure that he did, it seems unlikely this could be done.
  • by clambake ( 37702 ) on Saturday August 14, 2004 @01:44PM (#9968677) Homepage
    Dear fellow terrorist,

    MY NAME IS OSAMA bin LADIn. MY FATHER WAS AN OIL PRINCE in the Saudi Empire and managed to stash $30 Million US in a securities bank. I am writing to you because I need a foreign terrorist to helP me GET THE Money out of the country......

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