Inside Al-Qaeda’s Hard Drive

By Derek Sooman on August 16, 2004, 12:30 PM
Alan Cullison was in Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban, and after his laptop was destroyed in a near-fatal crash, he just so happened to find himself in a position to buy both a desktop and a laptop computer that had previously been in Al-Qaeda's Kabul office.

As it turns out, the laptop was a complete goldmine of information. It had belonged to Muhammad Atef, an Al-Qaeda military commander and a key planner of 9/11 attacks. It was rich with information about budgets, training manuals for recruits, scouting reports for international attacks, and much more.

A fascinating, if not disturbing read, which can be found here.

So, to all of our readers, please remember this: the next time you use your machine to plan a terrorist attack, remember to wipe the HDD before you stick it in the local paper.

User Comments: 17

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david5182 said:
Hahaha, what kind of n00bs operate PCs at Al-Qaeda?
TS | Thomas said:
& people say the CIA/FBI/Government were incompetent.
Nic said:
Just goes to show the kind of mind that becomes a terrorist. Doh ...
Phantasm66 said:
Maybe they just meant to steal those planes in 9/11... ;)(This is a joke and if you don't find it funny, I apologise in advance. I think what happened that day was appauling and I still remember the Earth just standing still....)
Strakian said:
Amazing... truly amazing... nice joke btw... har har... I fail to grasp the joke, and just knda found it offensive, although it having been so long ago i don't really mind anymore. Everyone should have moved on from this by now, it never helps to dwell on the past...
---agissi--- said:
[quote][i]Originally posted by Phantasm66 [/i]So, to all of our readers, please remember this: the next time you use your machine to plan a terrorist attack, remember to wipe the HDD before you stick it in the local paper. [/quote] Ah, thanks for the tip :D
young&wild said:
Or better still, give the HDD a big smack using the hammer.
shnig said:
kinda hard tosell then though
Strakian said:
Actually, I believe the CIA and FBI have ways of retrieving data/partial data off of broken drives if they haven't been wiped, even if they are torn up afterwards. (like a paper in half, etc)You really should erase it, then smash it, then burn it.People won't buy it though, like Shnig said
Unregistered said:
There is a company called DriveSavers that can do that. They can recover data from drives that have been burned up in house fires, lying on the bottom of a lake, etc.
---agissi--- said:
Thats insane, is this place (DriveSavers) open to the public?
shnig said:
Well the british gov dont believe information on a hard drive is safe until the hard drive has demagnitised.
Nodsu said:
There are many data recovery labs all over the world. For a hefty price they are willing to examine anything you throw at them.According to US DoD the only acceptable methods for destroying "top secret" data from a hard drive are either degaussing or physical destruction (disintegrate, melt, pulverize, etc.)
Spike said:
Would a blow torch sufficiently mealt a hard drive platter?
SNGX1275 said:
Spike, I don't have any knowledge of melting points of whatever HD platters are made of, but if you want you can get some thermite. Check it out:[url]
Dark_Tip_Destroy_All_Data.html[/url]Also [url][/url] has a video of this in action, check out episode 3.
Unregistered said:
it's funny ... sort of ... those al-queada terrorists are against american ways of living, their freedom, etc - so why are they using pc's? aren't pc's something of an american invention (ok, i'm not so sure on the specifics/details here, ie, who invented the pc)? don't al-queada ppl live/hide in caves? it's just a tad contradicting here ...
DigitAlex said:
I think that actually there might be more Al Quaeda people living in big european ,asian and american countries, driving modern cars and going to work every day like everyone of us, plus preparing their bad plans aside and under cover than those that really live in caves...
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