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Wiesenthal Center intercepts ‘electronic Jihad’ call by Hamas • Friday November 29, 2002

Reuters, Nov. 29, 2002

The militant Islamic group Hamas is urging followers to conduct a three-day “electronic Jihad” on Jewish Web sites, the Simon Wiesenthal Center said on Wednesday.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, an associate dean at the Los Angeles- based Jewish organization, told Reuters that one of the center’s researchers had come across two Web sites in Arabic referring to a campaign of hacking into Jewish sites starting on November 29.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center monitors extremist anti-Semitic publications and Web sites on a regular basis, but Cooper said the latest find this week was particularly alarming because one of the Web sites gave “how to” tips to would-be hackers.

“We have had numerous hackings back and forth between Israeli and Islamic sites since the Intifada began two years ago.

“But this is something we have not seen in some time. There seems to be an entire portion of a Web site which is devoted to a ‘how to’ get involved in that kind of activity,” said Cooper, speaking from Jerusalem.

Cooper said one of the Web sites appeared to be linked to Hamas. The Hamas movement is dedicated to Israel’s destruction and has carried out numerous suicide bombings against Israelis since interim peace accords were signed in 1993.

“We don’t know the extent of any potential activity or what exactly it would be, but we think this is significant.

“The term ‘Jewish’ Web sites could mean anything from Israeli government sites to any company that does business with Israel,” Cooper added.

Cooper said the significance of the November 29 start date was unclear, although he noted that it would be the first day of the eight-day Jewish Hanukkah festival of lights.

Cooper said the Internet was playing a pivotal role as a forum both for ideas and for groups wanting to circumvent official sources of information.

“The Internet has transformed the Islamic and Islamist world…. The Internet has become not only a battlefield, as this announcement would seem to indicate… of electronic wars, but it is also a key element in propaganda battles in Arabic, Persian and in English,” he said.

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