FBI Raid Shuts Arabic Web Sites

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Thu Sep 6 21:07:08 MDT 2001

Thursday September 6 5:38 PM ET
FBI Denies Bias as Raid Shuts Arabic Web Sites

By Marcus Kabel

DALLAS (Reuters) - An 80-strong U.S. terrorism task force raided the
Texas-based host of Arabic Web sites, including that of the Arab
world's leading independent news channel, prompting charges on
Thursday of an ``anti-Muslim witchhunt.''

But the FBI (news - web sites), which took part in the raid on
Wednesday at privately held InfoCom Corp., in the Dallas suburb of
Richardson, denied any anti-Arab bias and said it was executing an
unspecified federal search warrant.

The FBI declined to specify the target of the search warrant, which is
under seal in a federal court, except to say in a statement that the
search was ``one aspect of a more than two-year investigation that is

InfoCom's owners said the raid resulted in a temporary shut-down of
Web sites it hosts for about 500 customers, including that run by
Al-Jazeera television and the newspaper Al-Sharq, both based in the
Gulf state of Qatar.

Al-Jazeera is a major regional news source for Arabic speakers. Often
dubbed ``the Arab CNN,'' it has emerged as a major force in a region
where most broadcasters operate under direct state control.

The Web sites were shut down while about 80 agents copied information
from InfoCom's Internet servers, said Ghassan Elashi, brother of owner
Bayan Elashi.

He said many of the sites were able to start up again on other
servers, while the task force continued to copy computerized
information on Thursday. The office remained sealed off by FBI agents.

``We have nothing to hide. We are cooperating 110 percent with the
FBI,'' InfoCom's lawyer Mark Enoch told reporters.

Enoch said whatever tips had led to the search was ``bad

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les schaffer

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