Hackers Hit Top al-Qaeda Website Cyberexperts unsure whether attack was government sponsored By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Jun 30, 2011 7:08 AM CDT 3 comments Comments Al-Qaeda's top online forum was taken offline by hackers yesterday, say security experts. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Hackers have taken down a key al-Qaeda online forum and propaganda site, al-Shamukh, hitting not just the website but also the host server, reports the AP. Given the sophistication of the attack, security experts think the incident might have been government-sponsored, something that has happened several times in the past. However, because websites can be restored so quickly, Western government usually prefer to allow the al-Qaeda sites to remain open, but use them for intelligence. "These sites can be like spy satellites, they're great ways of gathering information about your adversaries," said a counterterrorism expert. "Bringing them down is like shooting at your own spy satellites."