MARIETTA - Hackers claiming to be part of global militant group al-Qaeda overtook Washington State Community's College's public website Friday afternoon.
An image of Osama bin Laden that replaced the front page of www.wscc.edu around 4 p.m. was taken down within minutes, said Claudia Owens, executive director of public relations and marketing for the college.
However, the website remained down as of late Friday night, while college IT staff worked to get the real site back online.
"The IT department is working diligently to get our site back up and working," said Owens.
Because the college is a state agency, officials there called in investigators from the Ohio State Highway Patrol to assist with the matter, she said.
Sgt. Scott Parks of the Washington County Sheriff's Office has contacted the state homeland security agency and is ready to assist as needed, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
"I actually have been in touch with homeland security and they have an interest in it," he said.
There is no information as to who hacked the site or if it was truly the work of al-Qaeda, said Mincks.
The image that briefly replaced the college's website depicted a black and white image of Osama bin Laden above the words "I swear by Allah..America and who lives in America will never enjoy security."
Along the left are additional black and white images of protesters captioned as chanting "We are all Usama."
Along the right is a rhyming poem which ends:
"America will Face their Worst,
Because We Are All Usama,
We will Show Them How We Burst,
Hear Us Very Well Barrack Obama."
The top credits the hack to "Al-Qaeda HaCKeR TeaM & TKL."
Investigators will be attempting to find who hacked the site, said Mincks.
"(College President) Dr. (Bradley) Ebersole is very upset about this. The college is going to pursue this as a criminal case," said Owens.
There is no time frame for when the public site will be back up, said Owens. But for now, students, faculty and staff still have access to the college's secure website at www.mywscc.edu, she said.
"It won't cause a problem from a standpoint of students needing to take online classes or look at their schedule online," said Owens.
However, it will mean that people visiting the college's website to view upcoming events or look for college information won't be able to, she said.