[ISN] FBI Raid Silences Teen Anarchist's Site

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Jan 31 2002 - 02:13:41 PST

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    By Brian McWilliams, Newsbytes
    31 Jan 2002, 12:15 AM CST
    In a case that may test limits on Internet free speech in the wake of
    Sept. 11, armed Federal agents last week raided the home of a Los
    Angeles teenager suspected of hacking into several Web sites to post
    anarchist messages and using his own site, Raisethefist.com, to
    publish bomb-making information.
    Sherman Martin Austin, 18, is believed to have violated federal
    computer fraud and abuse laws, as well as statutes prohibiting the
    distribution of bomb-making information, according to an FBI
    FBI agents conducted the raid on the afternoon of Jan. 24 at the
    Sherman Oaks residence owned by Austin's mother after receiving a
    federal warrant. The agents seized several computers and documents,
    according to an FBI spokesperson.
    In an interview Wednesday, Austin told Newsbytes he was interrogated
    for more than six hours but has not yet been charged with any crimes.
    According to Austin, all of the site's files, which were dedicated to
    "the anti-corporate globalization movement," were lost as a result of
    the raid. The site had received approximately 700 unique visitors each
    day, he said.
    "I think they are a bunch of cheap shots, surrounding and raiding my
    house with machine guns, shot guns, bullet-proof vests. They had more
    artillery than they use with wanted gang felons or raids on drug
    operations," said Austin.
    Matthew McLaughlin, a representative of the FBI's Los Angeles field
    office, confirmed that agents who conducted the search were heavily
    "This is Los Angeles after all. We always go in to protect ourselves.  
    We don't go in with sling shots," said McLaughlin.
    A message at the Raisethefist.com site today described the raid and
    said the incident was proof that "anyone actively disagreeing with
    policies of the U.S is now automatically rendered a 'terrorist' in the
    eyes of national security."
    Following the Sept.11 attacks on America, Congress passed the USA
    Patriot Act, which expand the ability of law enforcement to hunt for
    "People can rant and rave on the Internet all they want, but when they
    cross the line the line of calling people to action to violently
    overthrow the constitution of the United States, they have a problem,"  
    said McLaughlin.
    According to the FBI, Austin allegedly defaced at least five
    commercial Web sites since 1999 using the nickname "Ucaun." On three
    of the sites, Austin left behind a hacking program named troop.cgi
    that was designed to attempt to log in to a computer operated by the
    U.S. Army, the FBI affidavit stated.
    In the interview, Austin acknowledged that he vandalized the Web sites
    and that he knew it was illegal to do so. But he defended the act by
    saying it was necessary to get his message out.
    Copies of several of the defaced pages are accessible using the cache
    stored by the Google search engine. The defacements contain white and
    red text on a black background, with the title "Hacked by the UCA -
    Underground Confidential Association" and a verbose screed about
    overthrowing the government and building a "New World Order."
    According to the FBI, Austin operated Raisethefist.com as well as a
    site for his fledgling Web development business, 2CP.com, from
    computers in his home connected to a DSL line.
    Copies of the site's pages cached by Google include instructions on
    how to make explosives from pipes, fertilizer, and match heads.
    In the interview, Austin said he did not write the bomb instructions
    but instead copied the pages from another site.
    Another page, entitled "Hacking," notes that the Department of Defense
    and other government agencies are dependent upon information
    technology and are therefore vulnerable to computer attacks.
    "But how many of us are really willing to engage in such an intense
    form of warfare through bauds and wires? Who's got the balls? Who's
    willing to sacrifice everything?" said the page.
    The domain registration record for Raisethefist.com lists Austin as
    the administrative, technical, and billing contact for the site.  
    Austin said he "made up" the name listed as the site's registrant,
    Joseph Parker, "for security reasons" and noted that he has received
    threats because of the site's anti-government message.
    According to Austin, he has been targeted by the government simply
    because he advocates social justice.
    "If I go to jail, then I will go to jail not based on my actions, but
    based on what I think," he said.
    Raise The Fist is at http://www.raisethefist.com
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