The Asia Times website was targeted in an apparent denial-of-service (DoS) attack on Friday morning, March 4, by parties believed to be Islamist sympathizers.
Access to the AT site was disrupted for about one hour starting at around 7 am PST until firewall defenses restored website access.
Tens of thousands of requests were made in a few minutes to download a linked story on AT by the UK-based Daily Mail reporting that “Bangladesh may abandon Islam as state religion after extremist attacks on minorities.” AT, at the time, was one of the few news organizations to link the Daily Mail story after it ran on March 2. It was picked up by other major media several days later.
The story noted that Bangladesh could drop Islam as the country’s official religion following a string of extremist attacks against people of other faiths. The nation’s Supreme Court has begun to hear arguments which challenge Islam’s status as the official state religion. The case follows a spate of attacks against people of other religions such as Hindus, Christians, and minorities Shi’ites, which have been blamed on Islamic extremists.
Asia Times also published a story on the killing of a Hindu priest in Bangladesh by local militants on March 2.
Attacks on government and media websites by Islamist and various political dissident groups have become commonplace across the region — especially in South Asia. In Bangladesh’s case, some 200 Indian government websites were taken down by unknown parties several years ago after Indian security forces killed a number of Bangladeshi nationals in border-crossing incidents.
Indian private and public websites have also been attacked by religiously motivated Pakistani hackers. Hackers in Myanmar have carried out “false flag” attacks on local websites in response to Rohingya Muslim refugee issues.