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Checkpoint Washington
Posted at 05:32 PM ET, 07/20/2011

U.S. hacking of Taliban site deemed unlikely

The Taliban’s claim on Wednesday that “the deceptive enemy” had hacked its Web site and cellphones drew skepticism from those who track cyber operations in the war zone.

One former intelligence official thought the operation too “amateurish” to be the work of U.S. cyber or information operation specialists. “If you’re good enough, you can penetrate a computer and copy everything in it. Why would you do something amateurish like send a text to say Mullah Omar’s dead?’’

The Taliban “highly condemns this technical hacking and moral crime by the enemy,” Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousef Ahmedi said in a statement. He was referring to a text message distributed early Wednesday asserting that the group’s leader, Mohammed Omar, had died of a heart attack. The Taliban said Omar is alive.

One military intelligence official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was conceivable that the Americans were trying to “perturb the network” to provoke the Taliban to start communicating with one another so that intelligence operatives could begin to listen in or track them. “It’s clearly something that would be within our capabilities,” the official said.

For the record, a U.S. Cyber command official said, “We do not discuss such claims.”

By  |  05:32 PM ET, 07/20/2011

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