Computer Crime Research Center

Online Co. Shuts Down Site With Beheading

Date: May 14, 2004
Source: Yahoo!News

According to Associated Press, The al-Qaida-linked Web site that first posted a video of American civilian Nicholas Berg's beheading was shut down Thursday by the Malaysian company that hosted it - because it was drawing too much traffic.

A senior officer of the company, Acme Commerce Sdn. Bhd., said Thursday it was not aware that the site,, may have been connected to al-Qaida or that offensive material had been posted on it. If it had, the company would likely have shut it down earlier, said Alfred Lim, Acme Commerce's business manager.

"We are a legitimate business, in no way related to al-Qaida," Lim told The Associated Press. "We have no control over what our clients put on their Web sites."

Malaysia is one of the Islamic world's most progressive countries with aims of completing its transformation from a rubber- and tin-producing colonial backwater into a technology-driven society by 2020. It strongly opposes the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites), but is an ally in the fight against terrorism and has detained scores of terrorist suspects.

The al-Ansar site was operated by a client who rented space on a Malaysian-based Web server owned by Acme Commerce, Lim said, although he was not sure exactly when the client began renting the space.

Lim said Acme Commerce disabled the site Thursday morning because it had attracted "a sudden surge of massive traffic that is taking up too much bandwidth and causing inconvenience to our other clients."

The company also began getting calls from Web surfers who had traced the site's server on the Internet and drew officials' attention to the content for the first time, Lim said.

The video, which was posted on the site Tuesday, showed the slaying of Berg, 26, of West Chester, Penn. His body was found in Baghdad on Saturday.

Images from the video that do not show Berg's beheading have dominated television broadcasts and newspaper front pages in many countries.

Acme Commerce's policy was not to host sites that carry grisly, defamatory, obscene, potentially offensive material or gambling, Lim said. It would "definitely not host this kind of Web site" again.

He declined to identify the client who ran the al-Anwar site, saying the company "which claims to host 5,000 sites for clients in more than 30 countries" wanted to consult its lawyers first.

The company lodged a police report about the site, he said, although it was unclear what action Malaysian authorities might take.

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang urged Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government to investigate the possibility that "Malaysia is hosting a master network of international terrorist Web sites."

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said information about the case revealed so far did not amount to evidence of Lim's concern.

"Let the thing be investigated," he told reporters. "I can tell you that we do not support any terrorist actions."

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