[UPDATE – 02/12/08 – The Complete Guide to the 2008 Internet Outage has been finished. It contains the most up to date information including detailed images and explanations to help unravel this cable mess. Please check it out here]

[UPDATE – please be sure to check out part two of this post: Submarine Cables, Subsidiaries and Subversion, where you can find out information on who might stand to gain from these outages.]

Alright. Grab your foil hats if you must, but there’s some things that need to be said here.

While working hard at my job today I was stunned after I read engadget’s report that another large submarine internet cable had been severed. This comes after the news that other cables had been severed reducing the internet, phone, and television capabilities of many countries to nil. As of this writing, there are still reports that Iran is without internet connectivity according to InternetTrafficReport.com. EDIT Many readers have written in to inform me that Iran is, in fact, not entirely offline and that InternetTrafficReport.com is a terrible source. However, there are still millions of people without service. Thanks for keeping me in line.

It seems, that something is not quite right here. Just when I am starting to doubt my gut instinct, the Khaleej Times reports that it is in fact 5 submarine cables that have been damaged:

“Quoting TeleGeography and describing the effect the cuts had on the Internet world, Mahesh Jaishanker, executive director, Business Development and Marketing, du, said, “The submarine cable cuts in FLAG Europe-Asia cable 8.3km away from Alexandria, Egypt and SeaMeWe-4 affected at least 60 million users in India, 12 million in Pakistan, six million in Egypt and 4.7 million in Saudi Arabia.””

According to their reports, there was another cable severed that went unreported. So, here’s the list that they had of the 5 different cables:

“These are SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia, the FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria, FLAG near the Dubai coast, FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.”

As I said: 3 was quite a few. 4 is pushing it. 5 starts to make you wonder. In case you aren’t familiar with that part of the world, here’s a map that I made which shows the approximate locations of the “cuts” in the underwater cables: [UPDATE: I have completed the Google Maps version which includes all the new damages and links to the sources:]

We’re supposed to believe that these were most likely caused by an anchor from a ship fighting a storm. This author finds it hard to believe that this anchor was drug behind a boat from Egypt to Malaysia.

So everyone is scrambling to try and figure out why this would happen. Here’s some of the possible reasons that I have found while looking around the internet:

  • U.S. Government
  • Israeli Government
  • Aliens
  • Underwater Monsters
  • The Cloverfield Monster
  • Rudy Giuliani

However, this author actually dug a bit deeper and found a trail that leads from the owners of most of these internet cables all the way back to some very, very large companies in the U.S. and in the U.K. Which companies you ask? Who is behind this?

Well, that’s the topic for my next post. You’ll have to subscribe to my RSS feed and stay tuned for my findings. Don’t worry, the wait is over.

  • Mike

    Maybe its Israel. They have the technology, and the lack of respect for the rest of humanity.

  • Tom


    Seriously, just shut up. Making baseless claims about something you clearly don’t understand must have made you feel edgy and important; but really you ended up sounding pretty stupid. You and my crazy Uncle Larry would get along well.

  • Aitor

    Ok, let’s put the tin foil hat and:
    -Suspect it was the US.
    The US has the cultural preeminence, so discard this.
    Economic reasons. But they have delocated a lot of services!! this would hurt them a lot.
    The only reason woluld be to limit the outsourcing by creating “blackouts”.

    It is very difficult and expensive to locate and cut the cable… so if it was made on purpose it must be either a powerful organization organization or a government.

    If you have studied economics you should know that you have to put your money and resources to work where they can be most effective.
    Using several large ships to almost simultaneously cut cables is both expensive and difficult to manage.
    If you really have this capacity, you could just load a couple of ships with fertilizer (paid by companies that want
    you to transport it) and blow them up… my guess is that if you blow up Rotterdam’s crude oil offshore terminal you have more impact…
    This won’t be done for a number or reasons, so don’t panic!!

    So it isn’t terrorists, it must be a government.. but then again, I really don’t see a good reason to do so…

    So, if it must be deliberate, it is aliens!!! Grab your tinfoil hat and run to the nuclear shelter!!

  • Dave

    Sonds like a job for Superman

  • MarkC

    My guess (apart from conspiracy theories) is that the amplifiers died or sharks bit the fibre-optic cables. These are very frequent occurances on these cables and is probably more likely. For some reason the sharks have an affinity to the cables. When the salt water gets into the jacket (even if the shark didn’t cut it off completely) and screws up the optical index delta. Biologists believe the sharks do this due to the power that is transmitted with the cable to power the undersea optical amplifiers. The sharks (being rather primitive creatures) percieve the EM field as a injured food source. As well, while the optical fibre’s in-line amplifiers tend to be reliable these particular optical cables are rather old in comparision to some and the components are probably nearing the end of their lives.

    But for my fictional money I’d place a bet on Dr. Octopus….

  • John McIntosh

    Cutting communications is a prelude to military action.

  • Alex

    Since the internet is made of tubes and the Iranians need tubes for their missle systems for their nuculer weapons, the Iraninas figured a few tubes from the deep ocean wouldn’t be missed. Let’s bomb them and get our tubes back.

  • Strider

    I hate to bust all your bubbles but a repeater can be placed on a loop that connects to the original cable and no cutting is needed. Something the U.S. has done in the past. Try looking a little further, folks.

    btw – my money is on Goldfinger, he once said “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action.”

  • If you want to know the real reason for these actions you need only to look in one place. It’s simple, it’s not terrorists unless you consider the US to be a terrorist organization. Here is the only reason why someone would want to cut these lines.

    read section II in the middle of the page. However section one is pretty interesting as well.

  • To me, this is a clear strategy of the US to incommunicate Iran from the rest of the world and bomb their main objectives. They need satelites to do this, that is the reason why they have not block satelites.

    We all know that the US is waiting for the right moment. The Bush administration would want to do it before elections. Why not soon?

    This is scary, but to me. The US government did it and now we just need to pray that it doesn´t happen.

    This is my opinion from Spain.

  • hk

    consider this:

    during the cold war the us sent a submarine and divers to place a listening device on soviet “secure” telecommunication lines (electric current communication) that ran along the coast. they periodically retrieved recorded data for the duration of the cold war.

    us admitted rf listening (ie: eschelon) has become increasingly impotent with communications taking place over the internet. that is the whole argument for bush’s domestic spying in “new era communication”. that is why the placed taps on major us backbone locations within at&t and others as klein revealed.

    the probability of multiple lines being accidentally cut should raise questions. the latest reports of egypt say their ships did not cut them as they have evidence they did not travel near the break.

    tapping into today’s optical fibers undetected needs them to be broken first – ie: the line needs to be taken down. time domain reflectometery can show a discontinuity if it occurs between repeaters, but an undersea tap at a repeater would later not be detected – unless one were willing to pull up and inspect all 1900 miles and verify the repeater was the original.

    the breaks occur curiously near egypt and other “states of interest” and us and israel have reason to be suspected. sure the us would like to track such things as how ubl’s tapes and communications make their way to aljazeera. ip logging would go far to better locate the source – some thing local inter-middle east country communication doesn’t avail the west to with their taps on domestic/international spying.

    given the factual history of the us behavior and the probabilities it suggests concern is prudent.
    some media coverage in the west intentionally/non-intentionally is denouncing the whole issue. some attempt to broadly paint all the possibilities as “conspiracy theories” simply because one offering that the us is taking out iranian communications prior to an attack, has shown that the communications were unaffected. they should be more concerned with what countries are served by these lines, how odd the coincident of multiple failures is, and of showing past history and relating it to current spying by the us administration. paying particular attention to a break in egypt’s line and the requirement of a “offloading” site in a nearby country to exploit the data.

    [ADMIN EDIT – truncated for length. For similar information, check out my post here: Submarine Cables, Subsidiaries and Subversion]

    Internet cable breaks causing buzz on tech blogs

    Conspiracy theories about Iran abound as 4th internet cable is cut
    A little truth would go a long way at stopping conspiracy theories.
    Scott Adams at DilbertBlog notes the conspiracy theories, and sardonically notes similarities to one of his satires:

    It seems highly coincidental that three undersea cables get cut and the only country entirely shut off is Iran. I doubt it is the first step before war, but you can’t help raising an eyebrow when reality starts to intersect with fiction.


  • Wow! Unreal!

  • @those so quick to judge the “tin-foil hat crowd”

    Please check out my latest post:

    We’re All Up in Your Internets, Cutting All Yur Cablez

  • puttputt

    The cables were not cut, but the US goverment installed sniffer routers at the choke point of Middle eastern internet traffic to monitor it.

    Basically, they are do it for traceability and surveillance.

    It is for the sake of world domination.

  • Jimmy L

    Yea – I noticed the story off of drudgetracker.com. It’s pretty creepy… Don’t take my internet away : (

  • tankcat

    if you would like some background on these underwater supercables, read this article. it was written in 1996 just as the FLAG cable was being laid. warning, it is about 6 chapters in a good book, so put some time away to read it.


  • jeb

    damnnnnnnnn you aquaman!!!!!!!!!!!!! *shakes fist*

  • farang

    I’d have to say:

    1) bloodforoil hit the nail on the head, quite the find, that link. I think you are precisely correct.

    2) When folks like noteom and bite me open their mouths, it is a welcome sound.

    I always like to know who to completely ignore as bone stupid, and not waste my time reading their excrement. No need to wonder about their motivation to demonstrate public inanity: They might simply be IQ deficient, without ulterior motives.

    And that’s about as kind as farang can be to their ilk.

  • withemer

    farang “farang can be to their ilk” Is that gangstar slang in a highclass fathom?

  • KosherNinja

    Hahahahahha The whole world is at the mercy of Israel. We will do whatever we feel is best for us, to hell with the rest of the world.

    With the US as our loyal partner, we are untouchable. Soon the world will quake in fear of our might. No holocaust will ever happen again because we will destroy everything that stand sin our way, be it your fathers, mothers or your children. The world is ours because we are the chosen.

    Shalom motherfuckers!

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