How cupcakes brought down Al-Quaeda website

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Cupcakes: pretty harmless, right? Not to Al-Quaeda, it seems.

Last year, the organization started publishing an online magazine, Inspire, which was edited by US-born cleric Anwar Al Awlaki and run by Al-Qaeda's Yemen branch.

However, when it came to launch, downloads were marred by what appeared to be a series of viruses.

Readers were disappointed that such popular topics as 'How to use Asrar Al-Mujahadeen - sending and receiving encrypted messages' and 'Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom' appeared as unintelligible garbage.

But now we know why.

UK intelligence agents from MI6 and GCHQ say they hacked into the site and randomly inserted dozens of cupcake recipes. The recipes showed up as what looked like random computer code. Rather unpatriotically, the hackers used recipes from 'The Best Cupcakes in America' from the Ellen DeGeneres chat show.

The attack also removed articles by Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and a piece called 'What to expect in Jihad.

According to the Daily Telegraph, British intelligence went ahead with the attack without the support of the US, which was concerned that it might expose sources and tactics.

Inspire eventually got up and running again, and has produced four cupcake-free issues since.