Why do news services never identify Islamist websites?

In this age of the internet, when everyone seems obsessed with web-linking every possible reference, why is it that all of the English-language news services assiduously avoid giving the URL for any al-Qaeda proclamation? Instead of naming a web site, they typically use some vague formulation like, “an Islamist website” or “an internet page that is attributed to al-Qaeda”, but always without any more specific reference. The recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia are a good example of this. Someone, somewhere quickly took credit for the attacks on the internet, a fact which was noted by all the major news services, but they all failed to say where this claim was made, even though they often link much less significant information.

Perhaps this is some kind of pseudo-patriotic anti-terrorist measure, to avoid abetting terrorist communication, but it seems to me that any genuine terrorists already know what websites to refer to, and its not like the website is going to cash in on high Nielsen ratings or anything. Or maybe the news services figure that their readers are too lazy or ignorant to bother following the link if it were given. That may generally be true, but even more pretentious outlets like the New York Times seem to follow this policy as well as foreign outlets in the UK and even Saudi Arabia. I suspect Islamist conspiracy theorists probably find a lot of self-justification in this situation.

Whenever they show screen shots of these websites, they always seem to be in Arabic. My assumption is they don’t provide links as they know that the overwhelming majority of Americans will neither have Arabic character sets enabled on their computer nor know how to read it.

Without the right character set, it would just appear as jillions of question marks and little empty boxes. With the characters, it may as well be question marks to most.

If that were the motivation the more logical policy would be to link to these sites, in order to induce the Slashdot effect , disabling these sites for at least some hours.

I started a thread concerning why the Saudi government just doesn’t track those sites down. This I think it is related to the OP:

So, even if people tried to do a “Denial of Service” attack on one of those websites, it seems they’ll just hack into something else.
Damned frustrating.

One of my friends is absolutely obsessed with finding these sites, and he’s found a lot. Most are in Arabic (which he can’t read) but there are pictures, and some english. Sometimes I seriously wonder if he’s on an FBI watch list somewhere.

If you really want links, he’s got lots, and I’ll get 'em to you. Just let me know.

This is in the interest of ferreting out terrorists right? If you’re going to make donations or something, you go to hell and you die! :wink: