Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 01:42 GMT
World: Middle East
Teenage hacker 'destroys anti-Israeli Website'
Nir Zigdon has been hailed a cyber-hero in Israel
A teenager who claims to have destroyed an Iraqi government Internet site containing anti-US and anti-Israeli "propaganda" has been hailed as a hero in his native Israel.
But the operator of the US-based Website insists he caught 14-year-old Nir Zigdon's computer virus in time.
The boy has been feted in Israel after he sent a virus by e-mail to the site - www.iraq.com - after reading about allegedly anti-Semitic sites in PC-Media magazine.
He said: "I destroyed the site because it contained lies about the United States and Israel and propaganda against Jews."
Congratulated by fellow Israelis
Nir said he had received more than 100 phone calls on Sunday from Israelis congratulating him after his story was published in the daily Maariv newspaper.
He said he sent Fawzi el-Faramawy, a New York-based Egyptian who runs the site, an e-mail six months ago under an assumed name.
The boy said he was a Palestinian admirer of Iraq who had created a virus to destroy all the Israeli sites on the Internet.
The e-mail encouraged Fawzi el-Faramawy to click a designated batch file twice and Nir said when he followed the instructions it destroyed the Iraqi site.
The www.iraq.com site now defaults to www.arabia.com, a popular but non-partisan news website.
'Virus was stopped'
Fawzi el-Faramawy, who now runs www.iraq.org, an Iraqi government site says the default is for "security reasons". He says he caught Nir's virus before it caused any damage.
He says the boy's e-mail pretended to be an advertisement promising enhanced access to the Net.
Fawzi el-Faramawy, a 26-year-old student who volunteers his time, says he scanned the batch file and saw a crude program formatted to destroy his hard disk. He says he then destroyed the file.
He admits he e-mailed the boy back and told him to "go to Hell".
Nir says he is working on destroying several other "anti-Israeli" sites.
He says the Internet is "a place for different kinds of wars, like against Nazis who are against Jews and Arabs against Jews. "
Several Israeli companies reported last year that neo-Nazis had hacked into their sites to avenge the destruction of their sites by Israeli hacker Ehud Tenenbaum, known as The Analyser.
Mr Tenenbaum has destroyed several neo-Nazi, paedophile and anti-Israeli Websites.