Man pleads guilty to using fake ID for VeriSign to change Al-Jazeera domain management password

Incident Date: March 24 2003
Incident Location: Norco CA USA

John William Racine II reached a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office to plead guilty to two charges relating to his actions to take control of the Al-Jazeera Web site domain name. The charges were for wire fraud and unlawful interception of an electronic communication. His agreed upon punishment included three years of probation, a $2,000 fine, and 1,000 hours of community service.

On March 24, 2003 Mr. Racine looked up the domain registration information for and found that Muhammed Jasim AlAli was listed as the administrative contact. He contacted VeriSign, the domain’s registrar, using a Hotmail account in AlAli’s name and requested a change of the domain management password. Mr. Racine also placed calls to VeriSign posing as AlAli. VeriSign asked him to provide the answer to a password reset challenge question before the change would be made. Unable to provide the answer, Mr. Racine said he would call back later.

Racine then created a false photo identification card in the name of AlAli and forged an authorization signature on a VeriSign password change request form. He sent the documents to VeriSign and followed up with another telephone call. VeriSign agreed to change the password after reviewing the information. Mr. Racine then used the VeriSign domain management controls to point the domain name at a Web site with a patriotic American message rather than the actual Al-Jazeera site.

On March 27, VeriSign suspended the Al-Jazeera account after the Web site redirection gained media attention. Mr. Racine had already contacted the FBI at that point and admitted to his involvement. Prosecutors said that Al-Jazeera officials did not respond to US government inquiries about whether the incident caused it any financial losses.

Story Sources

Title: Guilty plea in Al-Jazeera site hack
Author: Robert Lemos
Date: 6/15/2003
Publication: CNET
Publication Location: USA
Publication URL:

Title: Al-Jazeera hack sees LA Web designer sentenced
Date: 11/14/2003
Publication: Reuters
Publication Location: USA
Publication URL:,39024655,39116894,00.htm

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