RealNews

Web magazine publishes, retracts worm cyberterror hoax

In a bizarre case of one journalist deceiving another, an Internet news site published — then embarrassingly retracted — a story that claimed a radical Islamic group was behind a virus-like attack that clogged the Internet. The Web site of Computerworld magazine published on Wednesday an article penned by journalist Dan Verton that he based on an e-mail interview with a person he identified as “Abu Mujahid,” a member of Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahadeen. Verton wrote that “Mujahid” claimed the group, believed linked to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network, had unleashed the destructive Jan. 25 Internet worm attack. A four-year staff writer for Computerworld and a former Marine intelligence analyst, Verton thought he had a scoop and wrote a splashy story that said Harkat had acknowledged releasing “the Slammer worm as part of a ‘cyber jihad’ aimed at creating fear and uncertainty on the Internet.” But Mujahid was really Brian McWilliams, 43, a free-lance journalist in Durham, N.H., whose employers include Salon.com and Wired News. Full Story

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