Cable Cut Sabotage Rumors Resurface

The has been a resurgence in speculation that some of the recent Middle East communications cable cuts were the result of intentional sabotage. Today the story has appeared at Ars Technica, Wired, InformationWeek and even The Wall Street Journal and been Dugg wildly. Has evidence emerged to support the theories that the cables were cut?

Not exactly. The blogospheric burst of sabotage speculation resulted from a vague statement by a UN official to Agence France Press. “We do not want to preempt the results of ongoing investigations, but we do not rule out that a deliberate act of sabotage caused the damage to the undersea cables over two weeks ago,” the UN agency’s head of development, Sami al-Murshed, told AFP.

There’s a big difference between “we do not rule out” and “we have discovered actual evidence” of foul play. Others tracking the outages have heard nothing to suggest any sabotage, apart from the proximity of the outages in time and geography. Stephan Beckert of TeleGeography told Wired Threat Level that his company keeps in very close touch with the companies that run and fix telecom cables and hasn’t heard anything about sabotage. “To my mind, it is just speculation,” Beckert said. “There is no point in ruling anything out, but I don’t think speculation does anyone any good.” Renesys also has a Cable Breaks: Lessons Learned post that reviews the likelihood that the damage was unlikely to turn out to be sabotage. At least one of the breaks has proven to be the result of a ship anchor.

Does Mr. al-Murshed know something? At the very least, he knows how to energize a rumor. Here’s a recap of our coverage thus far:

  • Ship Anchor Caused Dubai Cable Cut
  • Cable Fever and the ‘Fifth Cut’
  • Submarine Cable Repairs Underway
  • Cable Cuts, Coincidences and Conspiracies
  • Egypt: Ships Didn’t Cut Internet Cable
  • Cable Cut Disrupts Middle East Net traffic

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.