June 16th, 2011
09:16 AM ET

Security brief – June 16, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

Zawahiri confirmed as new al Qaeda leader – what will change?

Pakistani army chief under pressure, as ties with US crumble

Libya: is the US at war? Or just helping?

Libya: Russian mediation ongoing; troop defections growing

Syria: military moves toward more towns in north and east

Yemen: divisions grow within opposition

Yemen: US drone ops may take months to ready

Al Qaeda in Sahara growing more active

Recent Cyber-attacks “sophisticated” – who are LulzSec?

Zawahiri affirmed as new aQ leader

Ayman al-Zawahiri has been appointed the new leader of al Qaeda, according to a statement posted on several jihadist websites.

Al-Zawahiri has played a defining role in al Qaeda for more than a decade as Osama bin Laden's deputy. Even before the announcement, he had been widely regarded as the organization's de facto leader.

The announcement, dated June 2011 but which surfaced Thursday on the sites, said the decision to appoint al-Zawahiri was made to pay respect to the "righteous martyrs" and to honor the legacy of bin Laden.

The statement cannot be authenticated by CNN, but it appeared on radical Islamist sites known for posting similar statements and recruitment videos by other al Qaeda figures.

"Zawahiri has none of the charisma of bin Laden," [CNN terrorism analyst Paul] Cruickshank said. "He wants to inspire people, not just who are joining the al Qaeda organization, but people who have never joined the al Qaeda organization and are trying to launch attacks in their name. Without bin Laden there anymore, they won't be as inspired."

Former CIA Officer Phil Mudd agreed and said al-Zawahiri was not as respected. "Very poorly respected," Mudd said. "He is seen as a difficult man to work with. He has no sense among the work force in al Qaeda, the kind of prestige that bin Laden had."

Where will Zawahiri take al Qaeda? Some indications in his eulogy to bin Laden from earlier this month here.

Pakistan army chief hurt by close ties to US

From the New York Times
: Pakistan’s army chief, the most powerful man in the country, is fighting to save his position in the face of seething anger from top generals and junior officers since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to Pakistani officials and people who have met the chief in recent weeks.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels’ coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question, said a well-informed Pakistani who has seen the general in recent weeks, as well as an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years.

The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.

Pakistani media reflecting rifts in leadership: “It is an open secret that governmental response to US demands is never negative; if there is any resistance to the US, as CIA Director Leon Panetta’s most recent visit again reminded us, it comes from the GHQ/ISI. If drone attacks are to be permitted only to ‘take out’ high value targets, with permission of the GHQ/ISI, the PAF should be visible, patrolling the skies. The military’s image has again hit an all-time low. If it is to be rebuilt, the GHQ will need to speak confidently to reassure the people and demonstrate its will by following words with action.”

A Bloomberg editorial argues the US needs to adopt a take-it-or-leave-it strategy with Pakistan

President Barack Obama could dispatch Mullen to Islamabad with a strong message designed to persuade Pakistan to change course: In exchange for demonstrable efforts by Islamabad to crack down on terrorists and insurgents on its territory, the president would fight for additional military and economic aid, as well as increased access to the U.S. textile market. Washington also could offer to address Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns, for example by pressing India to limit its presence in Afghanistan and by helping to resolve the Indo- Pakistani dispute over Kashmir.

Mullen would also make clear the inevitable consequences for Pakistan if it continues to back terrorist groups. This approach was successful, at least for a while, in the past. Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage handed Pakistan’s intelligence chief a non- negotiable list of seven steps that needed to be carried out immediately against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The alternative, Armitage said, was to be labeled a U.S. enemy. The Pakistanis quickly agreed. As soon as President George W. Bush eased the pressure, Pakistani support for terrorists resumed.

Meanwhile drone strikes continue….

Local tribesmen said the men killed Wednesday were tribal militants affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban commander, Maulvi Nazeer. Some reports, however, suggested that a senior militant commander of the Maulvi Nazeer group was also killed in the attack.

Maulvi Nazeer is not part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Hakimullah Mahsud and is considered pro-government after he signed a peace accord with the government in 2007, promising not to fight against the state of Pakistan. [But he also identifies himself as in league with al Qaeda.]

In the second attack, tribal sources said the drones fired two missiles on a moving car in Karez village, 10 kilometers west of Wana. The first missile missed the target and those traveling in the speeding car stopped it near an apple orchard and managed to escape.

Afghan drawdown latest

White House spokesman Jay Carney Wednesday: "The President will be looking at recommendations from his commanders, including General Petraeus, having discussions with his commanders, Secretary Gates, his national security team going forward. I'm not going to give you a blow by blow about when those meetings are taking place and the content of those meetings, but he said – the President did – that he will make a decision soon about the beginning of the drawdown," Carney said.

But prominent Democrats want a substantial cut: More than a quarter of the Senate is calling on President Barack Obama to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan beginning with the planned initial troop reduction next month as part of a “sizable and sustained” effort to end the Afghan war. In a letter sent Wednesday, 26 Democrats, one independent, and two Republicans – Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky – ask the president to approve the withdrawal of a significant number of troops in July. Lee and Democrats Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tom Udall of New Mexico were the lead authors of the letter.

“We urge you to follow through on the pledge you made to the American people to begin redeployment of U.S. forces from Afghanistan this summer, and to do so in a manner that is sizable and sustained, and includes combat troops as well as logistical and support forces,” the letter says. “We look forward to working with you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that makes our nation stronger and more secure.”

Taliban attacks in Kabul

AFP reports: The Taliban targeted top government officials in Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 11 people in two suicide blasts and firing rockets at the vice president and interior minister, who escaped unhurt. Nine civilians were among those who died in the attacks, which came days after the United Nations warned of an unprecedented rate of civilian casualties in Afghanistan over recent weeks.

Two of the strikes hit central Afghanistan, not far from the heavily secured capital Kabul, and were claimed by the militia leading a nearly 10-year insurgency against US-led NATO troops and the Afghan government.

At least seven people – four police officers and three civilians – were killed and seven others were wounded when a suspected Taliban militant carried out a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attack targeting the office of the provincial Governor, Azizul Rahman Tawab, in the town of Mahmud-e Raqi in Kapisa province on 15 June

Syria: army moves in north and east 

From opposition sources: Military operations continue in the city of Alboukamal on the borders with Iraq amidst a news blackout. Number of Syrian refugees in Turkey said to have reached 9,000. Army tanks and troops move towards the city of Mouarrat Al-Nouman. Syrian Revolution Facebook Page names the coming Friday after Saleh Al-Ali, an Alawite leader of the Syrian revolution against French occupation in the hope of appealing to the Alawite community to join the protest movement.

New York Times adds:

Hundreds fled a town in northern Syria on Wednesday that appeared to be the next target of a military seeking to crush a three-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said, joining thousands already displaced in a growing crisis that has embarrassed the Syrian government.

In a succession of often bloody operations, the Syrian military has sent tanks and soldiers to the country’s most restive areas. This week, forces were deployed to eastern Syria, a region that borders Iraq and is knit by extended clans, as well as the northern town, Ma’arrat an Nu’man, which is on the highway between Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city.

Though the Syrian military said its forces had yet to enter the town, activists said hundreds of residents, perhaps more, had already begun heading to other Syrian cities and to the Turkish border. Insan, a Syrian human rights group, said that security forces detained 17 people yesterday leaving the town, a historic site in Syria.

CNN”s Arwa Damon tells the story of one young woman who has fled:

She is crammed into a minivan with family and friends and asks that we call her Nour. It's not her real name, but she is too terrified of repercussions to be identified. She has a degree in English literature and is expecting her first child. All she wants, she says, is to be free and allowed to live her life. Her anger is aimed at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies, who have launched a military crackdown in the region. The regime says it is fighting terrorists, but the people who fled the violence say the targets are democracy protesters and civilians.

Syrian government rallies its supporters

Tens of thousands of people gathered in a Damascus suburb Wednesday to help unfurl an enormous Syrian flag in a mass display of support for embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

The 18-yard-wide flag, which stretched 1.4 miles along Mezzeh highway in the capital, was considered an attempt by the government to project a sense of unity among Syria’s 23 million people as it expands a military crackdown on dissent elsewhere in the country.

The state-backed rally was organized by Syrian Youth, a movement of young people sympathetic to the Assad government. The group sent text messages to millions of cellphone users Monday urging them to support a united Syria and to “contribute” by attending the unveiling of the flag.

As the government pursues its crackdown on protesters across the religiously diverse country, some observers have voiced concern that the threat of civil strife is growing. Assad is a member of the Alawite sect of Islam and is popular among Christians and other minorities who fear a change in the country’s delicate ethnic and religious balance.

The Washington Post says US needs a tougher line on Syria: "The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests," the president declared. "It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities." As for Mr. Assad, "he can lead that transition" to democracy, "or get out of the way."

Nearly a month later, Mr. Assad has done none of those things; instead, he has escalated his war against his own people. Over the weekend an elite Army division staged a full-scale assault on the town of Jisr al-Shoughour, forcing most of its population of 50,000 to flee.

The administration has excused its passivity by saying that it does not want to "get ahead" of allies in the region, and that it worries about the consequences of a regime collapse. But Mr. Assad’s violence is already causing serious problems for Turkey and for Israel, which has twice faced incursions on its territory from Syria by Palestinian refugees organized by the regime. Other U.S. Arab allies are observing Mr. Obama’s passivity with dismay: "Why doesn’t the United States have a policy?" one senior official from the Persian Gulf recently asked us.

Jordan Times reports: Syrian authorities on Wednesday decided to open the Daraa border crossing with the Kingdom, allowing limited entry of goods and passengers, a senior official said. Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Taher Odwan said yesterday that the government has learnt that Syrian authorities decided to "partially" open the Ramtha-Daraa border crossing for 12 hours every day from 6:00am to 6:00pm.

Odwan told The Jordan Times over the phone that the decision was reported by Syrian media outlets, adding that the government has received no official memorandum from the Syrian side.

Libya: new strikes on Gadhafi compound

From UK MoD: RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft dropped a number of Paveway guided bombs in a precision attack on multiple targets within the large military vehicle depot that forms part of Qadhafi’s Bab Al Aziziyah compound in the Libyan capital. Several explosions rattled Tripoli Thursday morning as Libyan state television reported bombardments in Sirte, east of Tripoli, and other areas.

Russia explores Gadhafi retirement option

A Russian envoy due to arrive in Libya Thursday raised the possibility of leader Moammar Gadhafi giving up power but remaining in the country.

"There is a possible option where Gadhafi continues living in Libya as a private individualwith his people and his tribe but relinquishes power and his family stays away from taking economic decisions," Mikhail Margelov said, according to the country's Itar-Tass news agency.

Margelov said last week that the rebel Transitional National Council did not need "Gadhafi's head, and no one is going to scalp him and nail it to the wall in his office," the agency reported.

Margelov is due to meet top Libyan officials, he said before leaving Moscow, but it is not clear that Gadhafi will be among them.

He has already talked to the opposition in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, and consulted with Ahmed Gaddafi al-Dam, a cousin of Gadhafi's, in Cairo, he said.

Just what is the U.S. role in Libya?

U.S. aircraft are flying approximately 25 percent of all sorties and approximately 10 percent of strike sorties. Since March 31, the U.S. has flown nearly 2,970 total sorties; almost 700 were strike sorties.

Since April 4, U.S. participation has consisted of: (1) non-kinetic support to the NATO-led operation, including intelligence, logistical support, and search and rescue assistance; (2) aircraft that have assisted in the suppression and destruction of air defenses in support of the no-fly zone; and (3) since April 23, precision strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against a limited set of clearly defined targets in support of the NATO-led coalition's efforts.

The United States is providing unique assets and capabilities that other NATO and coalition nations either do not possess or posses in very limited numbers — such as suppression of enemy air defense (SEAD); unmanned aerial systems; aerial refueling; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) support. The United States provides nearly 70 percent of the coalition’s intelligence capabilities and a majority of its refueling assets, enabling coalition aircraft to stay in the air longer and undertake more strikes.

…and does it amount to waging war?

The fight over presidential authority in the military conflict in Libya reached a tipping point Wednesday, morphing from an academic discussion over the War Powers Resolution to a serious challenge to President Barack Obama’s authority to keep U.S. forces involved in the NATO-led air bombings of the North African dictatorship.

A day after House Speaker John Boehner declared Obama would soon be in violation of the 1973 War Powers Resolution, a bipartisan coalition of 10 members of Congress sued the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, arguing they are violating the law. The turn of events sent the White House scrambling to respond; the administration released a report justifying its actions in legal and military terms.

The rift marks the first major foreign policy dispute between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic White House. Formerly hawkish Republicans, now focused on the burgeoning national debt, are demanding Obama explain his actions abroad in a way Democrats once asked of his predecessor.

@AllenWest (R-Fla): "President is in deliberate violation of Federal Law by allowing our Armed Forces to stay involved in Libya. Sunday night his deadline is up."

Defections in Libyan military growing

Around 60 Libyans, including many government soldiers, have landed at Tunisia's El Ketef port this week following 19 new arrivals late Wednesday, the official TAP news agency reported. The port in the southeastern Mednine area on the border with Libya has this week received around 40 of embattled dictator Moamer Kadhafi's troops, including some officers, TAP said.

On Wednesday, a Tunisian defence ministry official said Kadhafi's army has been hit by recent defections, but there was no evidence that the claim referred to the troops mentioned in TAP reports.

Yemen: anti-government forces split over transitional council

Protesters are demanding the council be formed immediately, and that President Ali Abdullah Saleh remain away from Yemen. But an independent youth movement within the larger movement want to see more aggressive escalations of protests, while those belonging to the Revolutionary Organizational Committee are promoting restraint.

The Committee's membership is heavily drawn from the Islah party, the most prominent party within the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) coalition. Clashes erupted between Committee supporters and independents on Tuesday, after independent protesters tried to launch a march through the streets of the capital.

Members of Yemen’s opposition parties on Wednesday dismissed an offer from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to resume mediation in the political crisis.

Sultan Al Atwani, a member of a group of opposition parties which had accepted a previous deal only to see President Ali Abdullah Saleh reject it, called any new bid doomed from the start. “It would have been better for the GCC to be braver, and specify who has rejected this initiative and brought Yemen to where it is now,” he said.
A prominent tribal figure, Sheikh Sadeq Al Ahmar, has called on Saleh’s deputy, Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the acting leader, to allow a transitional government to take shape.

*At least 10 suspected al Qaeda members and five other suspects were arrested by Yemeni security forces after allegedly ransacking stores and opening fire at civilians in a neighborhood of Mansoura, Yemeni state TV said Thursday.

Islamists expand area of operations in south 

Militants made a serious incursion
early Wednesday into a provincial capital in Yemen’s southeast, warning government officials to leave or face retaliation. The attack was the latest case of armed groups’ taking advantage of the security vacuum created by the country’s prolonged political crisis.

Southern Yemen is a hotbed of antigovernment factions, including separatists and Islamic militants, only some of whom belong to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen’s local branch of the international terrorist network.

The militants, whose affiliation was not known, took over the central bank and a police base, along with other key buildings in the city of Hawta, the capital of restive Lahij Province, residents said. Security forces withdrew, they said, leaving civilians to try to fight off the militants.

U.S. drone program for Yemen may take months 

An Obama administration plan to expand the use of CIA-operated drones against militants in Yemen faces obstacles and will take considerable effort to put into full operation, a U.S. official familiar with the plan said.

It "could take months, not weeks" for the U.S. spy agency to bring its planned Yemen drone activities up to full speed, the official told Reuters. Other U.S. officials have said that the CIA was trying to build up a drone surveillance and attack capability in Yemen similar to the program the agency uses against militants in tribal areas along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

But the officials said disorder in Yemen was hampering the agency's efforts to expand its activities. Yemeni government disorganization and, more recently, anti-government protests have made it difficult to set up the kind of physical infrastructure and deploy equipment needed to run a drone program, officials say.

Associated Press adds: Preparing for a worst-case scenario in Yemen, the United States is building a secret CIA air base in the Arabian Gulf region to target al Qa’eda terrorists there, in case anti-American factions win the current power struggle and shut US forces out.

The White House has already increased the numbers of CIA officers in Yemen, in anticipation of that possibility. It has also stepped up the schedule to construct the base, from a two-year timetable to a rushed eight months. The Associated Press has withheld the exact location of the base at the request of US officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified.

The current campaign is run by a military counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), with the CIA providing intelligence support. JSOC forces have been allowed by the Yemeni government of Ali Abdullah Saleh to conduct limited strikes there since 2009. Mr Saleh loyalists have recently allowed expanded strikes by US armed drones and even war planes against al Qa'eda targets who are taking advantage of civil unrest to grab power and territory in the country. But the CIA would not confirm the White House decision to build the CIA base or expand the agency's operations in Yemen.

Yemen counter-terrorism plan a template for elsewhere?

The new campaign relies on special operations and unmanned surveillance and attack – but no boots on the ground. It’s very likely a harbinger of things to come, some national security experts say.

"What this basically says is, we’re not going to do counterinsurgency anymore; from now on it’s counterterrorism," says Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now at the Center for American Progress. "The focus is back on Al Qaeda."

Consensus in Washington on Al Qaeda remaining a threat may explain why President Obama faces virtually no opposition to what amounts to a covert war in Yemen – even as he battles Congress over the US military engagement in Libya.

U.S. urges dialogue in Bahrain (again)

'We support the national dialogue, we encouraged parties and people across the spectrum to engage, we think it is an important process of the moving forward,' said the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Michael Posner, during a press conference at the US embassy in Manama as he wrapped up a visit to Bahrain.

'The challenge now will be is how to initiate a dialogue that involves representative leaders on all sides and to insure that the dialogue begins to address divisive issues'.

The US Navy 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain.

The Bahraini king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, has set early July as the date for start of a national dialogue where all political powers can come to the table and present their demands.

'The potential for a coming together really does exist. It is not going to be easy, I don't think it will be a matter of weeks, but I do think that the process that will hopefully begin in early July will set the right tone and allow people to begin to reinforce the areas where their interests coincide and begin to come together against the pressures of extremes from both sides,' Posner said.

Women arrested in Bahrain during sit-in

Three women who were arrested in Bahrain on Wednesday as they tried to stage a sit-in at a United Nations office turned to Twitter to explain and document their protest, continuing to file updates even after they were taken into custody.

The women, Zainab Alkhawaja, Asma Darwish and Sawsan Jawad, who are all closely related to men who were detained during the recent protests, were finally released at about midnight local time. Throughout their seven hours in captivity, they managed to hold onto their phones and called on their followers on the social network to apply pressure on Bahrain’s government and on the United Nations.

CNN’s Nic Robertson profiles the avid Tweeter and activist Asma Darwish, a 20 year-old stutent has been on a hunger strike for the past 20 days calling for the release of her brother. The emotional interview happens around her kitchen table. She is working a massive Twitter campaign to free her brother, with her social networking weapons on hand; her iPad and Blackberry are visible on the table. She is also one of the 47 students expelled from the Polytechnic University the past two days.

“Arab Spring’s” challenge to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia - the spiritual center of the Islamic world, the world's leading oil exporter, and the leader of the Arab world - is used to being the center of attention. But this year will be remembered as the moment when the world finally looked elsewhere for leadership.

It's hard to imagine a more disastrous year for Saudi foreign policy. In January, Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled from riotous mobs to exile in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. Now the new regime in Tunis wants him back to put him on trial. In February, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime Saudi ally, was forced from office. In the space of days, Washington went from words of support for Mubarak to saying it was time to go. Then in March, after Bahrain looked as if it may concede the principle of a government ruled through the will of the people, Saudi riot-control forces backed by tanks poured across the causeway to the island.

In Riyadh and other Gulf Arab capitals, princes and sheikhs were left wondering how solid U.S. support would be for them. Last month, they got their answer, when President Barack Obama slammed Bahrain for its handling of demonstrations in his major May 19 foreign-policy address on the Middle East.

al Qaeda in Maghreb stepping up operations

Niger's army continued on Wednesday searching the area north of the country where she clashed Sunday with fighters of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who were carrying explosives from Libya, it was learned concordant sources.

"The gunmen who clashed on Sunday with the Nigerian army in the north Arlit where Islamist elements of AQIM," a security source told AFP.

The Nigerian Ministry of Defence had first evoked a clash with "bandits", 80 km from the mining town of Arlit. A soldier and a veteran of AQIM were killed and six soldiers wounded. The men who were travelling in three vehicles "from neighbouring Libya," the security source said on condition of anonymity.

"The army, whose reinforcements have arrived in Arlit, was searching the area Wednesday to try to locate the other two vehicles managed to escape after the shooting," said a military source.

Cyber attacks “sophisticated” – experts

These are first class attacks," says Luis Gorrons, technical director for Panda Security, a global cybersecurity firm. "We were always seeing attacks on small and medium companies, but now we're seeing that many big companies are being targeted and successfully attacked."

The people hacking into these big computer networks are for the most part highly sophisticated, with advanced tools and software at their disposal. But their motivations vary.

There are, for example, the "hacktivists" who break into networks largely just to disrupt them and make a political point. A recent penetration of the U.S. Senate computer system fit this pattern, as did an apparent attack Wednesday on the CIA's website. There are also cybercriminals, seeking to commit fraud or raid bank or credit card accounts, as at Citibank or Sony. Finally, there are the cyber-spies who want to steal military secrets from a defense contractor like Lockheed Martin or financial data from the IMF.

"If someone is breaching a defense contractor, it's probably at the behest of a foreign nation," says Anup Ghosh, chief executive of Invincea, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm. "If someone is breaching the IMF, it's probably at the behest of a foreign nation looking for competitive [intelligence] on what's going on."

Who are LulzSec?

Most recently, the hacking collective LulzSec claimed responsibility for a successful cyber attack against the U.S.'s Central Intelligence Agency website.

As it has done in its previous hacks, LulzSec revealed the attack through a tweet on its Twitter page. In it the collective claimed to have managed to have brought down the CIA's website making parts of it inaccessible.

The tweet posted read, "Tango down – cia.gov – for the lulz". A subsequent tweet posted later in the evening elaborated, "Goodnight twitter. The CIA anti-lizards will probably rise from the packet sea while we rest our shining-yet-saturated power field arrays".

The CIA are yet to confirm whether LulzSec's claims are true. Thus far, all that has been said by the CIA is that it's "looking into" LulzSec's claims. LulzSec's claimed attack against the CIA occurred just after the group opened up a telephone request line for "fans" to suggest potential targets. LulzSec has not yet revealed whether the cyber attack on cia.gov was done on request.

Although the CIA has not yet confirmed LulzSec's claims, its website was down for a period on Wednesday. Though this could also have been caused by the large amount of users trying to log-onto the site all at once to check the authenticity of LulzSec's claims for themselves. Before the reported attack on the CIA, LulzSec reported a similar attack on the public section of the U.S. Senate's website. The Senate has since clarified that the group did not manage to breach the firewall protecting the more sensitive portion of the network.

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