California man to plead guilty in Al-Jazeera hacks

Friday, 13 June 2003, 5:14 PM EST

A 24-year-old California man will appear in court on Monday to answer charges that he hijacked the Internet domain of Arabic news service Al-Jazeera in March.

In papers filed by the U.S. Attorney's office on Monday, John William Racine II, a Web designer in Norco, California, was charged with one felony count of wire fraud and one felony count of unlawful receipt of an electronic communication.

The charges stem from an attack in March that left Doha, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera without control of its own Web site, www.aljazeera.net. Visitors to that site instead were forwarded to site displaying words and images in support of U.S. troops.

Racine is alleged to have used phone calls, e-mail and fraudulent documents to gain control of the Web site hosting account through which Al-Jazeera's Web site was administered.

In a classic example of so-called "social engineering," Racine allegedly contacted administrators at Network Solutions, a domain name registration and Web site hosting service owned by VeriSign Inc., representing himself as an Al-Jazeera Web site administrator.

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