In a Pastebin post uploaded Tuesday, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters said that the main copy of a film that mocks the founder of Islam had been removed from YouTube, where it had racked up 17.1 million views.
"The al-Qassam cyber fighters lauds this positive measure of YouTube and on this basis suspends his operation and plans to give a time to Google and U.S. government to remove the other copies of film as well," according to the post. "During the suspension of Operation Ababil, no attack to U.S. banks would take place by al-Qassam cyber fighters."
[ Want the latest on online bank attacks? Read Bank Attacker Iran Ties Questioned By Security Pros. ]
The group previously promised to continue its attacks pending the "erasing of that nasty movie," or for at least the next year. The movie in question is "Innocence of Muslims," a film that mocks the founder of Islam. A 13-minute clip of the film was uploaded to YouTube in September, and blamed for triggering riots across the Middle East after clips of the film were featured in local newscasts.
The al-Qassam cyber fighters have blamed both the United States and the "Zionist Regime" both for creating the film and then failing to remove it upon being threatened. In reality, many copies of the film have been uploaded to YouTube, which is owned by Google. As a private company, Google is largely free to legally follow any terms of service that it sets, and had previously declined to remove the video on public safety grounds, at least in the United States. But Google did block the film in countries with large Muslim populations -- including Egypt, India and Libya -- to comply with local laws or avoid offending users. "What's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere," said a statement released by Google in September. "This video -- which is widely available on the Web -- is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube."
Other copies of the film, however, now trigger this warning screen: "The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being potentially offensive or inappropriate. Viewer discretion is advised." Users are given the option to continue to the film, or cancel their request.
But the removal of the main copy of Innocents of the Muslims -- the related link now resolves to a page that says, "This video has been removed by the user" -- begs the question: Who requested its removal? Google, which owns YouTube, declined to verify if the video had been removed by the account holder, who had been listed as "Sam Becile."