An outlaw band of cyber warriors has managed to do what Hal Turner's most ardent opponents haven't silence the hate-talk radio host, at least for a while.
An anonymous cadre of pranksters has targeted Turner's weekly Internet radio program and Web sites, in escalating attacks over the past two months that have all but put him out of business.
Turner, a white supremacist who has advocated violence against minorities and government officials, is trying to fight back, with a federal lawsuit that accuses five Web sites and "John Does 1-1,000" of engaging in fraud, extortion and racketeering.
Acting as his own attorney, Turner recently asked a judge in Newark, N.J., to grant an injunction against the Web sites, which he says make the attacks possible. But the judge said he first needs to hear from the defendants whoever they may be.
Turner describes his show as a "national treasure" that is "the literal embodiment of the First Amendment to the Constitution." His lawsuit says "people can call in and use any language or terminology they choose to express their thoughts or feelings about social, political, cultural, racial or religious issues, without fear of being censored or cut off."
Critics say Turner uses his show and Web sites to promote hatred and violence, calling for the murder of federal judges, illegal aliens, Jews and blacks, among others.
"He is a racist. He is viciously anti-immigrant. He's an anti-Semite and he openly urges violence of the worst sort," said Etzion Neuer, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League's New Jersey office.
Although the ADL "cannot condone any of the actions against him," Neuer said, "there's a certain irony that Turner is appealing to the courts when he has previously called for the death of judges ... I don't think any right-thinking person sheds a tear when Turner ceases broadcasting, but we would hope this would happen by legal means."
Mark Potok, who monitors hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, finds it amusing that Turner is turning to the legal system for help.
"He has gone from advertising `portable (expletive) lynching machines' to actually calling for the assassination of half of Congress and any number of other people," said Potok.
"If you watch what he says, he's very aware of exactly what the limits of constitutionally protected speech are," Potok said. "(He) is walking that line about as close as humanly possible."
Turner dismissed the criticism.
"I say publicly what very many people in this country are starting to think privately," he said last week. "Strange how much critics can take such issue with my words then sit back and gloat at the destructive actions of others."
Turner's suit blames "self-anointed arbiters of political correctness" for waging a continuing effort to shut him down since his first broadcast six years ago.
The latest assault began Dec. 20, when crank callers disrupted the show for three hours, the suit says. Turner responded by posting telephone numbers gleaned from the show's caller ID on his Web page with a warning to stop. Soon after, Turner says, he and his 62-year-old mother began receiving dozens of harassing, abusive and threatening phone calls when their unlisted home numbers were posted online. Eventually, they changed their numbers.
Turner also saw his computer server suddenly flooded with Internet data traffic at about 100 times the normal rate -- a major concern, because he is billed for all data that flows into and out of the server.
In what's known as "bandwidth rape," tens of thousands of copies of his Web site and files were being downloaded to the same computers in an apparent bid to saddle him with overwhelming bandwidth fees and force him to shut down, Turner claims.
Turner says he managed to blunt the attacks and return to normal -- until the e-posse put out a call for accomplices, along with how-to instructions. Data flow again spiked, forcing Turner to shut down his site on Christmas Eve.
Once he got back online, a more destructive maneuver followed. The so-called SYN-ACK attack which involves transmitting a volume of connections that cannot be completed - tied up resources and denied service to legitimate users, Turner claims.
A message on his site threatened to continue until he shut down the Web site and radio show, he says.
The attacks, which Turner considers extortion, continued during his live show on Jan. 3. This time, not only were his Web sites knocked offline, but the normal data flow for hundreds of others customers of the host's server in Parsippany was halted.
One of the defendant Web sites posted an "apology" on Jan. 5, showing an altered $5 bill with Turner's picture in the middle and a caption saying, "We're sorry we took all ur monies, here."
Continued "denial of service" attacks prompted the data center to cancel Turner's service two weeks ago. He found another, but it quickly backed out of a contract, calling him far too controversial, Turner says.
"I am being severely harmed by these attacks and I am in great danger of being permanently harmed," says Turner, who has temporarily leased a streaming audio facility.
Named in the suit are: 4chan.org, 7chan.org, eBaumsWorld.com, NexisOnline.net and Abjects.com.
An administrator at Abjects.com said his site provides real-time chat channels. Accusing it of facilitating criminal acts is akin to charging the phone company with aiding and abetting drug trafficking, he claimed. Turner made death threats against the crank callers during the first attack and incited his radio audience to attack the defendant Web sites by any means possible, the administrator added.