[ISN] Bin Laden's Felt-Skinned Henchman

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Oct 12 2001 - 04:44:51 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "Re: [ISN] Experts: Cyberspace could be next target"

    Forwarded from: Bronc Buster <broncat_private>
    Althought not really security related, this is a pretty interesting
    story. And heck, who knows, maybe Kimble is funding all this and it's
    really a covert operation? :)
    Bin Laden's Felt-Skinned Henchman
    Thursday, October 11, 2001
    By Michael Y. Park
    NEW YORK -- Do the global terror links reach even as far as Sesame
    Street? Is Bert the Muppet a henchman of terrorist mastermind Usama
    bin Laden?
    The answer is clearly no, but puzzled newspaper readers are still
    wondering how the Sesame Street icon ended up in a news service
    photograph of a pro-bin Laden protest in Bangladesh. The pictures
    clearly showed demonstrators holding up a large poster in which bin
    Laden and Bert are standing next to each other.
    The picture quickly began making the e-mail rounds Wednesday morning,
    astonishing and provoking laughter from Los Angeles to Switzerland to
    South Korea.
    The poster is a collage of pictures of bin Laden in white robes,
    camouflage fatigues and lecturing with a microphone in his hand, all
    ringing a large portrait of the bearded Saudi exile. Along the bottom
    is printed "Usama." On the right side of the picture, just past the
    right shoulder of the large portrait, is irascible Bert, bosom buddy
    of Ernie.
    The photographs do not appear to have been doctored. They were taken
    by news photographers covering at least two different demonstrations
    from different angles on at least two separate days.
    The first known Bert-bin Laden posters appeared on Oct. 5 in the
    Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, and photographs of them were printed by
    the Dutch news service Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau and the
    Associated Press and Reuters news services. At least one other
    photograph including the posters was taken at another location by
    Reuters photographer Rafiqur Rahman on Oct. 9.
    Reuters spokeswoman Felicia Cosby said the photos were authentic.
    "We've just noticed it ourselves, since you queried, that there is
    Bert on that poster," she said. "I don't know if they're
    mass-producing these posters, but what I can say is that it is
    definitely our policy not to doctor photographs."
    Associated Press spokesman Jack Stokes said the AP photographs were
    also untouched.
    "We haven't changed the photo at all," he said. "We have very strict
    editing guidelines."
    The AP photographs were taken by Pavel Rahman. Stokes said he did not
    know if Rahman was another name for, or related to, Rafiqur Rahman.
    Cosby said Rafiqur Rahman, a native Bangladeshi, did not know that he
    was photographing a Muppet when he covered a prayer demonstration for
    bin Laden's health Oct. 9.
    "The photographer is as bemused as we are," she said. "He didn't know
    what that furry creature was."
    Rahman is going to a local marketplace to hunt down more Bert-bin
    Laden posters Wednesday, Cosby said.
    The creator of a parody Web site dedicated to "Evil Bert" said he had
    a theory about how an associate of Kermit the Frog, Big Bird and
    Snuffleupagus had been recruited into the Al Qaeda cause.
    For several years, Dino Ignacio, 27, a San Francisco 3-D animator, had
    been maintaining a humor Web site that purported to "prove" that the
    bad-tempered, banana-shaped Jim Henson creation was connected to evil
    causes from Hitler and the JFK assassination to the stolen Pamela
    Anderson sex tapes and Kevin Costner movies. But he stopped
    maintaining the site when he lost interest in 1998.
    A week after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, someone
    e-mailed him an altered picture of bin Laden standing next to Bert
    wearing a trenchcoat and looking very angry. Ignacio didn't post the
    picture on his site out of respect for victims of the terror attack,
    but the picture began showing up on Bert fan sites and in other odd
    corners of the Internet.
    "What I'm thinking is that [someone there] has access to the Internet,
    got this picture to pop up off of Alta Vista or Google and put
    together this collage," he said.
    Of course, the other explanation might be that Bert has finally
    ditched Ernie, canceled his account at Mr. Hooper's shop and taken his
    Kalashnikov to the other side of the war.
    Sesame Workshop issued a statement saying it was very unhappy with the
    sudden connection between a lovable character with a penchant for
    pigeons and bottlecaps and the most wanted man in the world.
    "Sesame Street has always stood for mutual respect and understanding,"
    a spokeswoman said. "We're outraged that our characters would be used
    in this unfortunate and distasteful manner. This is not at all
    humorous.The people responsible for this should be ashamed of
    themselves. We are exploring all legal options to stop this abuse and
    any similar abuses in the future."
    When asked about Bert's current whereabouts, however, the spokeswoman
    replied: "No comment."
    Regardless of the explanation, Ignacio said he doesn't find his "Evil
    Bert" idea very funny right now.
    "It's weirding me out," he said. "It's like reality imitating the Web,
    but it's taking something that I did so much further. I don't want to
    get into this one because it's too real."
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY
    of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 06:37:59 PDT