Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said US experts scored a cyberwarfare coup by hacking into websites run by Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch and changing the message to undermine their propaganda.
In a speech in Tampa, Florida late Wednesday, Clinton said the success was staged by the State Department’s new Center for Strategic Communications, which also draws experts from the intelligence and defense communities.
One team, she said, targeted a propaganda campaign launched two weeks ago by the Yemeni-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which was “bragging about killing Americans and trying to recruit new supporters” on key tribal websites.
“Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,” Clinton said during a dinner at the Special Operations Command.
“And we can tell that our efforts are starting to have an impact, because we monitor the extremists venting their frustration and asking their supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet,” she said, drawing applause.
It is part of a broader effort by digital experts who are fluent in Urdu, Arabic and Somali who patrol the Internet and use social media to undercut Al-Qaeda propaganda and spotlight abuses committed by al-Qaeda, she said.
[US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on May 23. AFP Photo/Saul Loeb]