Al-Qaeda Activities, Not Piracy, Reason for Shutdown of 73,000 Blogs

There was plenty of confusion surrounding the shut down of 73,000 blogs at The little bits of information that were available said it was law enforcement related, but little else was available at the time. While one blog said it was an anti-piracy crackdown with ICE involved, it turns out, that report was inaccurate.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

A lot of things can be assumed when a whole site and tens of thousands of websites are rendered inaccessible. This story shows that assumptions about a huge shut down aren’t always correct. Shortly after the shut down, a report on CNET initially cast doubt on if the RIAA and ICE were involved in another anti-piracy crackdown:

Though BurstNet never indicated Blogetery’s problems were caused by copyright violations, TorrentFreak, a blog that covers Web file-sharing issues and broke the story, wrote that the U.S. government may be involved as part of stepped-up antipiracy operations. Nearly three weeks ago, a group of federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a unit of the Department of Homeland Security–seized assets and Web sites belonging to people authorities say operated illegal file-sharing sites. President Obama has said his administration is going to get tough on piracy and counterfeiting.

But on Sunday, a spokeswoman for ICE said “while ICE’s Internet piracy enforcement efforts are still very much ongoing, we were not involved with the action.”

A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America said Sunday that the trade group for the four top record labels had nothing to do with Blogetery’s shut down. A spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America said he had never heard of Blogetery.

So the RIAA and ICE denied responsibility yesterday. The question is, what really caused the shutdown? According to an article on CNET today, it turns out it was actually an anti-terrorism effort:

The site was shut down after FBI agents informed executives of, Blogetery’s Web host, late on July 9 that links to al-Qaeda materials were found on Blogetery’s servers, Joe Marr, chief technology officer for, told CNET. Sources close to the investigation say that included in those materials were the names of American citizens targeted for assassination by al-Qaeda. Messages from Osama bin Laden and other leaders of the terrorist organization, as well as bomb-making tips, were also allegedly found on the server.

But Marr said a employee erred in telling Blogetery’s operator and members of the media that the FBI had ordered it to terminate Blogetery’s service. He said did that on its own.

So, it turns out, the initial report was wrong. This was not an anti-piracy effort. It was actually an anti-terrorism effort to stop things like assassination attempts initiated by the FBI. It’s a heck of a lot more palatable for a number of observers to say the least.

What will become of the service remains to be seen though. Being known as the site that allowed Al-Qaeda to recruiters to get to work isn’t exactly good PR. Maybe users can get some of their posts back and move to another service in the mean time. It’s hard to say what will become of this, but at least the good news in all of this is that authorities do try and chase people that wish to do harm to America.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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