The recession is over in the Middle East
At least for moving companies and plastic surgeons.
Osama bin Laden didn't have a phone or internet connection, but for years he was a prolific user of email who frustrated Western efforts to track him by saving messages to a thumb drive and having them sent from a distant internet cafe, the Associated Press reports. The process was so tedious that even veteran intelligence …
The way he was doing it doesn't sound like it'd be any slower than postal mail, at worst. It seems tedious to us because we regard postal mail as a quaint and adorable holdover from a millennium in which people in the developed world were mostly more or less human.
Besides, so what if it is tedious? Being shot dead in your own home is probably pretty damn exciting, if perhaps only briefly, but I don't know that I'd consider it *preferable*.
I made the mistake to create a few mailing lists with a small company that was later gobbled by Yahoo!, for personal projects involving semi-anonymous 1-way communication (nothing pedorrist, it's all about art *), and I can tell you, sending USB drives by courrier has to be less tedious than solving the captcha required by Yahoo to send e-mails to multiple hidden recipients!
*and doesn't even involve nudity. So innocent, I won't even post this anon. Except for the shame of not managing these mailing lists locally; but again, for semi-anonymous stuff people tend to trust adresses in @yahoo.* more than those in @diegeekdie.co.cc
but Arabic speaking Jews as well.
After 9/11 they refused the services of those Jews, originally from Arab count0ries, so as not to offend the Muslims working with the FBI; but some of those Muslims objected, anyway, to interrogating other Muslims and refused to record the "interviews".
... OBL did receive regular notice of the deaths of heretofore unknown distant relatives mostly Nigerian Oil Ministers with huge cash estates stuck in-country.
He lived for ten years, and my spam filter has been throwing them out for as long ... How could I have been sooooooo stupid!
That is absolutely not tedious, actually quite straightforward and intelligence services should be ashamed if they were really fooled by that strategy. I believe this is called sneakernet, it's been around for ages, and it's always been used by intel / underground types.
How is it more tedious than sending regular snail-mail? Yet my grandparents, prolific mailers, have "maintained it for" the past 32 years (and repordely longer, my memories from before that are a bit hazy though, possibly due to my not being born at the time). I'm glad to learn today that my grandparents' tenacity would blow the mind of the world's best intel brains.
Seriously, that attempt to excuse the delay in finding OBL by presenting him as an evil genius is ridiculous.
A few days ago, an El Reg article speculated that the trove of data would be mostly useless due of encryption, but apparently OBL had considered it too much hassle -- just like most normal computer uses do (unless forced to to use a performance-killing encrypted laptop drive by corporate security).
"At least it made him less likely to send a spur of the moment angry email to anybody"
Hmm, yes... you wouldn't want that, Osama bin Laden getting angry with you and sending you a recklessly worded e-mail. What could be worse than that.
Incidentally, I haven't heard of these fellows using biological or chemical weapons, is it against their religion? If you don't count persuading stupid farm kids to carry suicide bombs as a biological weapon. Imagine for instance if they went about spreading foot and mouth disease amongst livestock., which I presume they didn't, it spread like it did because that's what happens. Or swine flu. Of course they very much don't like swine, but is that all that stopped them?
The real question is how were the emails transfered?
Were they plaintext on the USB key, or were they pre-encrypted by Osama himself using PGP or something similar.
Even if they can't decrypt the messages themselves, the haul must include a long list of email accounts which can now be monitored and access logs probed to better understand what remains of the organisation.
It doesn't sound very secure, unless the courier was using a different internet cafe every time. Otherwise the authorities could catch the guy by keeping a watch on the place. And if all such places were "driveable" from Bin Laden's home, that raises other tracability questions. Also there is no mention of encryption. I guess we won't know the truth until perhaps 50 years from now.
I see you've discovered the minor flaw in the plausibility of this story.
It really makes no sense at all. If it was supposed to be the same Internet cafe every time - that's obviously pants when you have the NSA supposedly monitoring everyone and everything.
If it was a different cafe, you're right - "driveable" gives anyone watching a good hint about the geographical location of the source.
The system would be more successful if you had a chain of couriers who could pass encrypted mails to each other and email them from different countries.
But if you're going to do that, you may as well skip the email part and simply pass the thumb drives around by hand and/or by post, with a standard pick-up point.
If you were really clever and had the kind of huge and terrifying James Bond Villain network of minions Bin Laden was supposed to have, you could use each courier exactly once.
But running some guy in an old car ragged driving to the same cafe each time - "Hello Muhammad - your usual this week?" - isn't exactly the epitome of cyber tradecraft.
Osama's response times sound to be on a par with the piss-awful Outlook system which the Thought Police oblige us to use here in the Tower of Barad-dûr. Note to lusers: please do not use poncy stationery effects as it may result in a prolonged experiment to determine the exact temperature at which you rface catches fire.
Let's have an authoritative step-by-step guide published by the press based on Intelligence Service sources on "How to avoid detection as a Terrorist" and post it for the world to see.
Then tomorrow when we cannot catch the next bad guy those same people will be complaining how we cannot catch them. Well, DUH.
The reason BL was safe in that compound for so long is the press announced they were tracking his radio and cell use at Tora Bora in December 2001. Guess what happened? Yes, he stopped using them. Same with Internet, email and the rest. And then years later the press took the same intelligence services to task for not being able to find him. Who is to blame? The press and blabby mouth intel types.
Throughout the last twenty years intelligence methods have been broadcast to the world by the press citing anonymous intelligence sources almost the day after they happen. These puffed up "experts" adopt an "Oh look how smart we are" attitude and spill the beans on how they did what they did.
Enigma allowed the allies to spy on portions of German cipher traffic in WW2, shortening the war by literally years. That secret was finally outed in 1975. Keeping intel secret saves lives. Period, full stop.
Stop declaring intelligence methods publicly, stop leaking info with a wink and a nod and start using the Espionage Statutes for those who do. Its all fun and games until someones kids are blown up by a car bomb.
There is of course the possibility that the SS provide such information to the press intentionally as it's utter codswallop. You honestly think that if there was such a problem with the press publishing top secret and above information that it wouldn't be fixed within days?
Disseminating false info is an age old SS tactic. You let it be known that you are tracking OBL in the Tora Bora caves (when you know full well he's nowhere near there), he thinks "lolz - stupid Westerners are looking in totally the wrong area!" giving you more time to narrow down your search. Even if he figures out your ruse, if something real is ever leaked, how can he know with any certainty that it isn't just fake info?
Staying hidden is surpisingly easy if you are willing to live the life of a camel herder in some p*** poor region. The world is a pretty huge place when you're looking for one man without a credit card, mobile phone, inet conn, etc.
I'm not really sure about the link between SS methods and children being rent assunder by car bombs tbh. If someone really wants to blow up your car they shouldn't really struggle regardless of their knowledge of SS methods (unless you are the PM or somesuch, in which case your car tends to get checked for such issues - I personally just turn the key whilst wincing a little and hope fir the best. Worked perfectly so far!)
Indeed, very well put.
Reminds me of when one of the prince’s was out in Afghanistan. He'd been there some time and a newspaper, American I think, was about to publish a 'scoop' on him being there and where he was. Most reporters knew he was there and understood the consequences of publishing.
Disinformation is a lot harder these days with the global press and Internet. There are always 'whistle blowers' who think it's really cool to have a scoop, not considering the wider consequences.
Download the mail to Eudora before leaving work, read and reply to messages while on the train, send messages when I got home. It worked really well until they decided email was too archaic and they needed a web message board. Yes visiting a different internet cafe for each transaction adds a level of annoyance, but not difficult. Even if you include time for configuring a client for the USB drive, I don't think it would be much more than 15 minutes to configure, upload/download, disconnect, and wipe the configuration at the cafe. Plenty of time to get back out before a tail is dispatched to catch you.
They used our own technological cavalier attitude against us!
Meanwhile, I am taking my shoes off at the airport, getting X-rayed naked in the body scanner, having all my internet traffic vacuumed up and sent through a Narus box directly to the NSA. We have tracking devices that don't fall under the 4th Amendment stuck to our cars, our banking activities are all reported...
So, who has really cost us our freedom? Our own Government or the Terrorists?
At least the protesters after Vietnam did something.
There was a publication in the 60's, I think, which explained the purpose of terrorism, which was to cause the opposing government to introduce measures which would alienate their own citizens. Being arrested at an airport for possession of a nail file seems to be a good example of a success for the terrorists.
>Anyone in the USA that can speak Arabic has already been locked up as a "terrorist
Not so far from the truth - back in the day MI5 screened BBC recruits for security risks.
One of the factors for potential enemies of the state was studying an enemy language (or given that this is England - possibly any foreign language). It all came out when they listed an historian as having possible links to communism because they had a PhD in medieval Chinese.
You're telling me that in 5 years when OBL lived in that shithole, NO ONE in the American Intelligence community never intercepted a single courier or tapped the Internet Cafe's access lines in Pakistan?
Yup, that's what I'm paying my tax dollars for. Ineptitude on the scale that only the U.S. HomeyLanz Zecurity Agenzy (DHS) could perpetrate.
I'm embarrassed, but no surprised, at all.
I marvel at the fact that WE "marvel" at such a simple process....and one that was so easily detected.
1) Courier Arrives at a compound....
2) Courier Leaves Compound
3) Courier arrives at an internet cafe
4) Email from bin Laden sent
5) Courier leaves internet cafe
Rinse and REPEAT....over and over and over.....
How often did this happen? Maybe a "couple" of times....
Why are some people so surprised about sending emails via removable media? When I was at Sunderland Uni in the late Nineties this was exactly what I had to do because my digs didn't even have a phone line. I used to transfer my email from my PC to the Internet and back via dedicated floppy disks for each account and Netscape 3. The only challenging aspect was finding a server where the IT department hadn't disabled SMTP for no obvious reason - as part of that I out found that the servers' names were intriguingly themed along the names of Blake's 7 characters or assorted pantheons of gods.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022