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Is American ISP hosting terrorist web site?

By Jeremy Reynalds
web posted May 6, 2002

Being in the nonprofit "business," I am obligated to write regular appeals for money, so I have sympathy for those who need funds for good causes. Especially since 9/11, funds are hard to come by. Consequently, my curiosity was aroused last week when I received an e-mail containing among other things a story from British newspaper The Independent detailing one group's attempts to raise money.

However, the funds this outfit's looking for aren't to provide a warm safe place to stay and hot, nourishing meals for homeless women and families. No, the thrust of this horrifying story was that the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, a prime perpetrator of the suicide bombings against Israel, is appealing for funds on its web site to buy weapons and explosives for attacks.

QassamBeing a pretty curious guy, I went right over to the web site to check things out and there it was, plain as day. The appeal was headlined, " A call for donation from Martyr Izz el-Deen el-Qassam Phalanxes."

After quite a lot of rhetoric, the writer got down to the point:

" ... Muslim brothers ... all over the world ... Martyr Izz el-Deen el-Qassam Phalanxes, your own defending phalanxes, the military wing of Hamas movement in Palestine, is calling upon you to donate with what you can to assist the cause of Jihad and resistance until the occupation is eliminated and every span of the Muslim Palestine is liberated ... The price of Kalashnicov bullet is $3 and the price of the Kalashnicov gun itself now is $2,000 and it was $3,500 couple of months ago, and do you know that the the price of R-B-G is $12,000 and the price of T.N.T that's used by your mujahideen brothers is $100 a kilo, also Martyr Izz el-Deen el-Qassam Phalanxes now manufactures Al-Qassam land-to-land missiles in different sizes and also the anti-shields Al-Banna bomber, Martyr Izz el-Deen el-Qassam Phalanxes also supervises the development of fighting, defensive and attacking weapons and other much projects mustn't be elaborated for confidentiality purposes ... "

The writer went on to claim that the group has managed to kill 65 percent "of what has been killed of Zionists since the start of the intifada (uprise) of Al-Aqsa."

The writer added that contributions would go toward helping build a strong Islamic army. "Thousands and thousands of ... youth in Palestine long for carrying any kind of weapons ... but no one is giving a hand . Ammunition ran out while facing the Zionists. My ... brothers ... you'll have no excuse in front of Allah, So contribute with what you can."

The writer moved in for the financial kill., writing "Dear donator brother, send us at the e-mail available at (the) web site and send us a fake name and the amount that you want to donate and we will secure handing this money . And may Allah SWT bless you ... Your brothers Martyr Izz el-Deen el-Qassam Phalanxes. The military wing of Hamas movement- Palestine."

Now here's the real shocker. The same individual who sent me the original story claimed that an American Internet Service Provider is hosting the site for this terrorist group. Rather than just believe the e mail (as any good reporter should do), I went to the source and checked out the web site (www.qassam.org) at an Internet registration site – www.internic.com. It turned out that the site is indeed being hosted by an American ISP, www.rackshack.net, which also does business as Everyone's Internet.

I called the outfit on their the convenient toll free number (1-800-504-7873) and asked for someone who could speak on behalf of the company. When I was directed to a public relations firm, I asked "Are you sure they can speak for you?"

The woman said something to the effect of, "Well, what do you want?" I told her I was calling to get reaction as to why her company is hosting a web site for Palestinian terrorists. She did not appear to be familiar with Hamas (or the web site I was referring to) but said that conditions for hosting sites are clearly laid out in the company's terms of service. That document does prohibit use of the company's web services for illegal activities. However, before Rackshack pulls a site, she said, the company would need something in writing.

I suggested she might like to investigate before her bosses receive a not too friendly visit from federal officials who would pull the site for them. "If they choose to do it they can, but we need something in writing," she said.

The employee, who was only willing to identify herself as "Jessica," did add that the company might not be directly hosting the site. She said that Rackshack may be leasing the server out to the group which is then running its own mini hosting company.

While there could be some creedence to that, it still sounded like a very convenient way of weaseling out of a difficult problem. After all, while support for this issue is split between the Israelis and the Palestinians, tolerance levels tend to diminish rapidly when it comes to internet solicitation for weapons.

With that in mind, I suggest you contact the ISP and suggest they pull the plug in the site. A call to law enforcement authorities might be a good idea as well.

Rackshack's address is: Everyone's Internet, 2600 Southwest Frwy Suite 500 Houston, TX 77098, United States. Rackshack CEO Robert Marsh may be reached at headsurfer@ev1.net.

Jeremy Reynalds is a freelance writer and the founder and director of Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest emergency homeless shelter. He has a master's degree in communication from the University of New Mexico and is pursuing his PhD in intercultural education at Biola University in Los Angeles. He is married with five children and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work can be viewed here and weekly at www.americasvoices.org. He may be contacted by e-mail at reynalds@joyjunction.org.

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