As soon as it ended, before 5 a.m. in the Middle East on October 1, 2004, the first presidential debate was the subject of discussion on the al-Sahat message board. The discussion included sophisticated analysis of the candidates' presentations, claims that the "Jews" will control U.S. policy no matter who wins the election, speculation on which outcome would best serve the jihadist cause, and conspiracy theories about President Bush receiving coaching during the debate through an ear piece that he allegedly wore on stage.
Al-Sahat is an Abu Dhabi-based, Saudi-funded website that serves Arabic speakers who wish to express their views on a variety of topics, including politics, sports, and jihad. Newsweek reported on June 2, 2003, that the CIA and FBI closely monitor this bulletin board "as a kind of terrorist early-warning system." A message that appeared on the site on September 9, 2001, proclaimed that a "big surprise" was coming in the next couple of days from the Saudi Arabian region of Asir, which most of the 19 hijackers called home.
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