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updated 12/21/2012 12:50:03 PM ET 2012-12-21T17:50:03

Several important al-Qaida sites went offline weeks ago, and remain unavailable, in what has been characterized as one of the longest interruptions to the terrorist organization's online network since it began distributing communications digitally in 2006.

It's unclear what's responsible for the outage, but evidence points to an attack of some kind, possibly a distributed denial-of-service attack.

According to intelligence sources, the outage has significantly crippled al-Qaida's online recruitment efforts and its ability to disseminate propaganda. The darkening of the terrorist organization's websites interrupted what was supposed to be a resurgence and reawakening as the group consolidates following the death of Osama bin Laden.

Perhaps most notably, the outage has prevented al-Qaida from releasing a propaganda film called "Salil al-Sawarim 3."

Online chatter showed operatives discussing and sharing clips from the film, which, according to Washington D.C.'s WTOP-TV, was planned to be released by today (Dec. 21).

Another collateral effect from the outage can be seen on Twitter . According to intelligence, there has been an increase of al-Qaida–related tweets, likely because the group's other communication channels are cut off.

Follow Ben on Twitter@benkwx.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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