The United States intercepted the video before it was released on Islamic Web sites where al-Qaida usually posts its messages, a U.S. counterterrorism official said, without elaborating on how.
Soon after Washington announced it had the video, all the Islamic militant Web sites that usually carry statements from al-Qaida went down and were inaccessible, in an unprecedented shutdown.
The reason for the shutdown was not immediately known. Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism expert, said he suspected it was the work of al-Qaida itself, trying to find how the video leaked to U.S. officials.
Kohlmann said it was unlikely the U.S. government shut down the sites.
"I don't think they would have the legal or technical capability to do so, to collectively shut all these sites at the same time. Also, I don't think the U.S. government is necessarily interested in shutting these sites down, unless there is something so provocative and dangerous in what bin Laden is saying."
"It's pretty remote that the content of his speech is so incendiary that they would shut down all the sites. The idea that they (U.S. government) could totally prevent this from coming out on the Internet is ludicrous," he said.
Two things stand out to me here:
- The US was obviously sending a message by announcing they had the tape before it even got to the site. Why they would send that message, I'm not sure.
- I'm impressed (in a bad way) that al Qaeda could shut down a pile of websites simultaneously. That says something about their level of organization.