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Spy hackers turn bombs into cupcakes

LONDON -- Britain's spy agencies have a new message for terrorists: Make cupcakes, not war.

Intelligence agents managed to hack into al-Qaida's extremist Inspire magazine, replacing its bombmaking instructions with a recipe for cupcakes, according to reports Friday.

It's the first time the agents sabotaged the English-language magazine linked to U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an extremist accused in several recent terror plots.

The quarterly online magazine, which is sent to websites and email addresses as a pdf file, had offered an original article titled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" in an edition last year. The magazine's pages were corrupted, however, and the instructions replaced with the cupcake recipe.

"We're increasingly using cybertools as part of our work," a British government official said Friday. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters and confirmed that Inspire magazine had been successfully attacked.

But choosing to hack into al-Qaida-affiliated websites or other systems is also risky business for intelligence agencies. Infiltrating a site can often expose sources and methods, a second British official said. Therefore, no officials would specify how Inspire was hacked.

British officials consider al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to be a significant threat to U.K. interests.

Al-Awlaki, thought to be hiding in Yemen, is believed to have inspired and even plotted or helped coordinate attacks on the United States. Those include the failed December 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner and the unsuccessful plot to send mail bombs on planes from Yemen to the United States.

Al-Awlaki also is believed to have inspired the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, and had ties to some of the 9/11 hijackers.-- AP

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