SITE Intelligence Group
SITE was originally founded as the SITE Institute in 2002 by Rita Katz and Josh Devon with Katz as director and Devon as the research director. The two had worked together at Steve Emerson's Investigative Project. The New Yorker implies that Katz and Steve Emerson had had some sort of falling out, writing that by June 2002 “Katz and Emerson, both combative personalities, had parted ways”. The domain for the Site Institute’s website www.siteinstitute.org was registered on 1 July 2002.
In 2008 the SITE institute shut down its website and posted the following message:
“After several years of public service, the SITE Institute, a non-profit organization, has ceased its operations. Its assets have been sold and the proceeds transferred to other non-profit organizations consistent with the educational and charitable mission of the SITE Institute. Some of the activities formerly conducted by the SITE Institute will now be carried out by the SITE Intelligence Group, a for-profit entity.”
The domain for the SITE Intelligence Group’s website www.siteintelgroup.org was registered on 26 January 2007.
Activities and personnel
On its new website SITE does not provide any information about its personnel but media sources confirm that the group is still run by Rita Katz. The focus of the organisation according to information provided on its website is the provision of a subscription based Monitoring Service detailing the following:
- 1. Entire translated transcripts of terrorist leaders’ speeches, videos, and audio messages, as well as the original video and audio messages.
- 2. Translations of terrorist books, magazines, fatwas, and military training manuals.
- 3. Translations of terrorist communiqués, including copies of videos and audio messages associated with the communiqués.
- 4. Translations of terrorist chatter discussing potential targets, methods of attack, and other relevant material.
Social media analysis of Texas gunman at AFDI's Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition
In May 2015 SITE was widely quoted as an 'expert' and 'private watchdog' during the media reporting in the aftermath of the Texas shooting at the Prophet Mohammed cartoon competition run by Pamela Geller's American Freedom Defense Initiative. According to SITE, the gunman Elton Simpson was in touch with Islamic State group supporter Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 'an American who joined IS and may be fighting in Somalia'.
- Hassan is believed to have used the name Mujahid Miski in his discussion of attacks with Simpson. These included public tweets and private messages.
SITE director Rita Katz wrote in an analysis of Simpson’s communications:
- Upon Simpson's final tweet and news of the attack being announced across media outlets, Miski celebrated Simpson as both a martyr and a friend.
SITE’s founder Rita Katz is a professed Zionist. She spent much of her early life in Israel and served in the IDF. She has been quoted as saying, “I believe that Jews belong in Israel”. The Site Intelligence Group’s website as well as the website of its previous incarnation, the SITE Institute, are both registered to the IP address 22.214.171.124. According to Domain Tools, as of 21 March 2008 there are 139 sites hosted on that server. They are predominantly websites of Jewish owned business or groups promoting Jewish culture in the United States, and they include groups actively engaged in promoting Zionist views and anti-Arab propaganda. They include the websites of the following organisations:
- Middle East Media Research Institute
- San Diego Jewish Times
- The California Institute for Yiddish Culture And Language
- The Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs International Teen Leadership Institute (ITLI)
- CIEMPRE - “a group of journalists and community activists…concerned about a rising wave of misinformation”. The website’s ‘Latest News’ is exclusively made up of reports on Islam in Latin American. One is called “Islam on march south of border”.
- Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles
- Coalition for Responsible Peace in the Middle East
- Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
- http://www.benadorpr.com/, an older website of Benador Associates which represents right wing commentators such as Daniel Pipes.
SITE was among the organisations which promoted the Global Islamic Media Front and its alleged news outlet the Voice of the Caliphate. On 30 May 2008 Telegraph.co.uk posted a story reporting that SITE had wrongly identified footage from the post-apocalyptic computer game Fallout 3 as being created by terrorists considering a nuclear attack against the West. 'According to the UK Telegraph, SITE found the Fallout 3 images in a video called "Nuclear Jihad: The Ultimate Terror," posted on two possibly al Qaeda-affiliated, password-protected websites, where it also gleaned chat logs from users discussing nuclear attacks on the West.' SITE 'released a statement to clarify its position, stating that it never claimed the images were produced by terrorists, although it didn't admit to knowing from the start that they were video game images.' Telegraph.co.uk subsequently pulled the story from its website.
- Benjamin Wallace-Wells, 'PRIVATE JIHAD: How Rita Katz got into the spying business', The New Yorker, 29 May 2006
- http://www.siteinstitute.org (accessed 21 March 2008)
- e.g. Associated Press, ‘Al Qaeda Online Supporters Lash Out at Taliban for Not Remaining Loyal to the Global Jihad’, 10 March 2008 (accessed 21 March 2008)
- Homepage of www.siteintelgroup.org (accessed 21 March 2008)
- Aaron Leibel Author Infiltrates Islamic Terror Cells' Washington Jewish Week 29 August 2003
- Kotaku , accessed 22 November 2010
- Kotaku, 'SITE Refutes Fallout 3 Goof, Is Not "Red-Faced" [Oops]', May 30, 2008 Friday 4:20 PM EST
- The stopry was at the following URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uncertain-world/2053942/SITE's-embarrassment-as-Islamist-'Washington-apocalypse'-image-turns-out-to-be-from-Fallout-3-game.html Intelligence Group Mistakes Fallout 3 Screens For Terrorist Propaganda],