Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo
It was a quiet Sunday, the morning of July 30th, when I logged onto Antiwar.com and got the following error message: URL NOT FOUND ON THIS SERVER. Huh? What's up with that?
A frantic phone call to our Webmaster revealed the awful truth: Antiwar.com had been wiped clean off the cyber-map, utterly destroyed hacked to near death in a vicious cybernetic attack. The invaders came in through a public FTP site, utilizing a buffer overrun a technique that overloads a machine until it is just about ready to crash to assault our ISP's server. At that moment of weakness, with security completely down, they gained route access and dumped the entire web structure. To make matters worse, our server's hard-drive was being repaired when we were attacked and so it was mounted which meant that when the hackers executed the "delete" command, everything on the server was deleted. Antiwar.com's files were the first to be attacked, but every one of our ISP's clients lost three and a half weeks of data. One indication that this was not a random attack is that another antiwar website, emperors-clothes.com, was also targetted: the editor of that site, Jared Israel, has been very visible in the effort to expose NATO's lies and the victimology of the Bosnian Muslims, especially over the issue of Srebenicia. They also dumped the tracking info the electronic traces every hacker leaves behind but, thankfully, there were a few logs they overlooked and we were able to recover a couple of entries. Such as this one which, to all you techno-geeks out there, reads plain as day. As for the rest of us, however . . .
Okay, let's look at it like this: the key phrase in this shard of evidence is the following IP address: 188.8.131.52. This is a European address, and so we go to the database site of ripe.net (the European equivalent of Network Solutions (InterNic), a central registry of IP addresses, like a phone book) and type in the address: 1-9-5-dot-2-2-2-dot-4-5-dot-8-0, and bingo!
Three names pop up: Nedim Dzaferovic, Samir Mekic, and Nihad Borovina, all with Sarajevo addresses. Dzaferovic is listed as being affiliated with something called the "Department of Intelligent Network." Mr. Dzaferovic shows up on the list of attendees at RIPE's 29th meeting, held in Amsterdam January 28-29 at the posh Park Plaza hotel, listed as representing "Public Ent[erprise] PTT Bosnia and Herzegovina" Bosnia's state-controlled monopoly telecommunications company. On the website of the Bosnian Commission for Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons, Dzaferovic is listed as an official of the Bosnian government, the "Director, PTT Federation Telecommunications." And on the official website of the 1999 Sarajevo Summit "Stability Pact," our friend Dzaferovic is thanked by the web team, and his association with BiH.net, which describes itself as "the first Bosnian internet service provider," is noted. Here is a photo of Samir Mekic: obviously a Bosnian geek with hacker tendencies. "The Network is down" reads the slogan on his tee-shirt: yes, Samir, but wasn't it you brought it down? We know that Mekic, too, attended the 29th meeting of RIPE, representing the same Bosnian government agency as Dzaferovic along with the third cyber-musketeer, Nihad Borovina.
Gee, what a surprise that officials and employees of a government often criticized in these pages would be motivated to hack into our sites or, at least, front for those who did. Of course, in Bosnia, where all internet access is controlled by the Bosnian Muslim government and all dissident media, such as Serbian radio and television stations, have been closed down it is understandable that the concept of free speech may not be fully appreciated. But that's in Bosnia this is the good old USA. Surely no Bosnian government official would dare try to close down American sites or would he?
In an email to me, Joe Vigorito of Eagle Net, our internet service provider, wrote: "Not sure what's up at this .80 IP as the DNS server for the IP address was coming out of a .mil address on the day of the attack. It now shows a bih.net server which is the largest ISP serving Bosnia and Herzegovina." In an interview, Vigorito told me that he had never seen anything like it: the registration had been changed literally overnight. Government-sponsored cyber-terrorism? Looks like it, but the real question is: which government? The Bosnian government would almost certainly not do this on its own authority: the risk of being tracked down is too great. But acting under the protection (and direction) of the US and/or NATO, our Bosnian cyberterrorists might be suitably emboldened.
The Sunday attack had us down for only a few hours, but we had a lot of repairing to do and the sites were not fully restored for several days. However the shock of the attack has yet to wear off along with disgust at the knowledge that our tax dollars, and yours, no doubt funded this act of cyber-thuggery. For the government of Bosnia-Herzegovina is largely funded by the US, with George Soros picking up most of the rest of the tab. We've given more than $5 billion in direct aid to Bosnia since 1995, a good portion of it stolen by government officials, and would it really be all that surprising if some of it paid for training hackers in the art of war? Surely this qualifies as military aid. And so we come to the ultimate irony of life in Imperial America. A government whose only legitimate function is to protect us from foreign invasion is now subsidizing aggression against its own citizens. The same government that is spending billions in the fight against "cyberterrorism" and issuing a stream of legislation and proclamations designed to "protect" us from what is alarmingly described as "an electronic Pearl Harbor," is, on the other hand, enabling (if not directly overseeing) a sneak attack on antiwar websites.
While all the facts have yet to be uncovered such as whether the Bosnians were acting alone, or if they had help from their NATO overlords our investigation has established beyond the shadow of a doubt that Bosnian hackers, using Bosnian government facilities, were responsible for the July 30 attack on these websites. Bosnia has no laws against cyberterrorism, and whatever legal recourse we have is limited. We do, however, have political recourse since Bosnia is for all intents and purposes a US protectorate. What is needed is an investigation of the shenanigans going on under the sponsorship of the Bosnian government and not only by American law enforcement agencies, but also by the US Congress. Surely our lawmakers would like to know how their "foreign aid" money is being spent especially if it is being used to stifle free speech in America much like it is squelched in Bosnia. If this had happened to the New York Times, or CNN, the US government would be in a veritable lather, and the Three Stooges of cyber-space would be in some very hot water. Remember that hacker in the Philippines who unleashed the "Love bug" virus? They not only tracked him down quickly, but they surrounded his house, while hurriedly searching the law books for some applicable statute: then they tried to put him away for as long as 20 years. After the last spate of hacker attacks on large commercial sites, President Clinton called a cyber-summit and Janet Reno announced a crackdown on "cybercrime" and a whole new set of Draconian regulations that would effectively deliver the Internet to the tender mercies of the federal government. Well go ahead, Janet sic 'em! We're waiting. . . .
Actually, this is a job for our old friends at ACERT the newly-created US agency that is supposed to be going after "cybercrime" but, as I pointed out in a previous column, seems more interested in surveiling us. Gee, maybe I should give them a call and let them know that a "cybercrime" has been committed but, come to think of it, they probably already know all about it.
The Watergate break-in was a penny-ante burglary that did not immediately show up on the national radar screen: but as the story began to unfold, and connections were made, the implications of what seemed like a relatively trivial event began to sink in with major consequences for all involved. While hardly on the same level, the consequences of the recent break-in at our sites could be similarly unpleasant for these bungling Bosnian cyber-"plumbers" and those who stand behind them. This is not something that the journalistic community can afford to ignore -- for if these vandals are allowed to get away with their crimes, even after being exposed, they will strike again, and with impunity. Who's next on their list?
Now that they have been so ignominiously busted, it will be extremely interesting to see how these cretins react. And you can get a reaction out of them by emailing or phoning and telling them directly just what you think of their unethical and illegal methods of political struggle.
Nedim Dzaferovic (phone) +387 71 264 080 (fax) +387 71 650 211 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Samir Mekic (phone) + 387 71 230 287 (fax) + 387 71 656 280 e-mail: Mekic@BiH.net.BA (or you can try: email@example.com).
Nihad Borovina (phone) + 387 71 230 285 (fax) + 387 71 656 280 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm sure they'd love to hear from you. . . .
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