Would-be terrorists searching the Internet for tips on how to build bombs were instead taught how to bake the perfect cupcake after an intervention by British intelligence, the Telegraph reported yesterday.
MI6, the British intelligence agency, launched the cyber operation against jihadi magazine Inspire in an attempt to hamper attempts by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to attract “lone wolf” terrorists.
Surfers trying to download the English-language magazine’s “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” by “The AQ Chef” feature were instead redirected to a site boasting recipes for “The Best Cupcakes in America.”
The baking site, which is published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show, promises treats for “today’s sweet-toothed hipsters” including the mojito cupcake, made using white rum and vanilla buttercream.
Meanwhile, the 67-page Inspire contains recipes showing how to make rudimentary pipe bombs using sugar, match heads and a miniature lightbulb.
The British hackers also removed articles by Osama bin Laden, his deputy, Ayman al--Zawahiri, and a piece called “What to expect in Jihad.”
The jihadi magazine is produced by Anwar al-Awlaki, an AQAP leader who has lived in Britain and the US, and his US colleague, Samir Khan from North Carolina. Both men are believed to be living in Yemen now.
Britain and the US planned separate cyber attacks to disrupt the magazine on learning of that it was to be published in June last year, but the Pentagon reportedly decided against taking action because of complaints from the CIA, which believed it would expose sources and cut off a source of intelligence, the Telegraph said.
Al-Qaeda was able to publish the magazine two weeks later and has continued to do so, but British intelligence has reportedly continued to target the magazine
At the time Inspire was launched, US officials said the packaging of the magazine was slick, “but the contents are as vile as the authors,” the Telegraph reported.
It quoted Bruce Reidel, a former CIA analyst, as saying the magazine was “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the US or UK who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber.”
Additional reporting by staff writer