NEWSROOM AMERICA STAFF
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a rare admission of covert government activity, told a conference of hundreds of special operations commanders in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday, said the U.S. was hacking into al Qaeda Web sites in Yemen as a way to disrupt the terror group’s operations.
Clinton, who spoke alongside Adm. Bill McRaven, head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, said State Department cyber experts had hacked into Yemeni tribal sites to replace al Qaeda propaganda that bragged about killing Americans.
“Within 48 hours, our team plastered the same sites with altered versions of the ads that showed the toll al-Qaeda attacks have taken on the Yemeni people,” Clinton said.
In response to that, “Extremists are publicly venting their frustration and asking supporters not to believe everything they read on the Internet,” she added.
Clinton said that aspect of special operations was part of a multiple effort aimed against the terrorist group and its allies. Other aspects include the Navy SEAL operation that killed Osama bin Laden a year ago, as well as slower diplomatic efforts aimed at assisting local governments and training local forces in high-insurgency areas.
Clinton and McRaven were “sending a tacit message to their sometimes warring tribes of troops and diplomats that they have to get along,” CBS-Tampa reported.
Yemen is considered a model and test case for that strategy, the report said. Al Qaeda has long had a presence there, bolstered by U.S. military efforts to eradicate the group from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The U.S. has been working to help stabilize the new government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who replaced ousted Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh relinquished power in February as part of a U.S.-supported deal brokered by Gulf Arab states to stabilize the region.
The country was the planning site for three failed attacks against the U.S., which included the 2009 Christmas Day attempt by an al Qaeda operative to bring down an airliner heading into Detroit with an underwear bomb.
In 2000, al Qaeda launched a seaborne attack against an American warship docked in Yemen, the USS Cole, which killed nearly 40 sailors.
© 2012 Newsroom America.