MI6 hackers replace al Qaeda bomb recipes with pirated cake recipes

Hackers working for UK intelligence agency MI6 modified an online al Qaeda magazine and replaced the bomb recipes therein with cake recipes. They called it "Operation Cupcake."
When followers tried to download the 67-page colour magazine, instead of instructions about how to "Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom" by "The AQ Chef" they were greeted with garbled computer code.

The code, which had been inserted into the original magazine by the British intelligence hackers, was actually a web page of recipes for "The Best Cupcakes in America" published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show.

Written by Dulcy Israel and produced by Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio, it said "the little cupcake is big again" adding: "Self-contained and satisfying, it summons memories of childhood even as it's updated for today's sweet-toothed hipsters."

Sounds like someone's got a copyright infringement case on their hands. I hear MI6 has deep pockets.

MI6 attacks al-Qaeda in 'Operation Cupcake' (via Reddit)

(Image: Pirate Cupcake, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nikki1201's photostream)



  1. Are we sure this was MI6? Sounds like something anonymous would get up to. I think MI6 are just trying to take credit for some anonymous lulz.

    1. Nah, if Anonymous had done it, they would have used a recipe with potato chips, soda pop, lemon juice, and earthworms.

  2. Well, I think that anyone who would sue MI6 for copyright infringement should be arrested and charged with terrorism.

    At least that’s how it should be in this case :-)

  3. What the article was talking about is that the “The Best Cupcakes in America” is copyrighted and MI6 did not have the authority to use it or parts in this way and I am sure the writers and producers of “The Best Cupcakes in America” would not be amused with been included into a terrorist magazine.

  4. Hasn’t any one seen Full Metal Alchemist where they used this exact technique to encode secret Alchemy?

  5. Reminds me of an Invader Zim episode:

    “Gir! Why don’t you have the navigational chip?”

    “I took it out!”

    “And WHY did you take it out?”

    “To make room for the cupcake!”


    “I miss you cupcake :'(“

  6. I think it’s particularly amusing that the recipe is written by someone called Dulcy Israel.

  7. Why not replace the bomb recipes with harmless things that look like they could be bombs, but have no chance of working? Or perhaps require large quantities of strange ingredients, to help trace where the people using the recipe are.

    MI6 (if this was them) should be better than this.

  8. No sources are provided for any of the narrative: it is a fictional propaganda story in a newspaper practically run by MI6.

  9. I love the delicious irony of the cupcake recipe author’s last name given the audience of this hack. :)

  10. Personally I’d rather see recipes that make horribly unstable mixtures and fusing techniques that will set them off during construction. A bombmaker who screws up once doesn’t do it again.

  11. This is just the best spy hack EVAH!

    I’m guessing that Mr.WannabeTerrorist might figure out that he’s been had before actually removing delcious cupcakes from the oven, but the imagery is just too funny. A Bin Laden look-alike in an apron with an oven mitt displaying his incredulity…

  12. This seems to have advantages and disadvantages. While you could replace the recipes with potential duds, wildly unreproducible concoctions, or flagged ingredients this serves a more direct purpose. Pointing out this line of communications isn’t safe and destroying the credibility of the publication. I can see where this could just drive the people trying to use it back underground. But I think humiliating the publishers and casting any portion of the item into doubt is not a bad move.

  13. “in the kitchen of your mom” ???
    How about, “your mom’s kitchen?”

    I get tired of the way enemies are denigrated by translating their writings into pidgin English. It means we are not taking it seriously and are clouded by our own ideology. “There’s no way these uneducated fools can even use proper grammar even in their own language.”

    We should take these pukes seriously, and show that we do. They want to KILL US. It’s not a friggin popularity contest.

    1. awjtawjt,

      I’ve often thought the same thing, and whenever I translate between Japanese and English, I try to get as “conversational” or normal as possible.

      Unfortunately, it’s often not possible. Sometimes words have specific connotations and grammar is constructed in such a way that to “normalize” a translation actually causes a loss of information, which is a no-no as a translator.

      I don’t speak Arabic, but I can guess that “the kitchen of your mom” and “your mom’s kitchen” actually are very different. For example, the former says that this is a kitchen (owned by the patriarch) where your mother toils away, while the latter implies that your mom owns (and runs) the kitchen.

      In another way, more often than not, translations are done by someone who doesn’t have English as their native tongue, and the grammar suffers accordingly.

    2. I get tired of the way enemies are denigrated by translating their writings into pidgin English. It means we are not taking it seriously and are clouded by our own ideology.

      The ideology of Google Translate?

      Grammar structures often carry meaning in and of themselves. Conforming a translation to the target language’s grammar can alter semantic subtleties.

    3. We should take these pukes seriously, and show that we do. They want to KILL US. It’s not a friggin popularity contest.

      No. We really shouldn’t take them seriously. Pakistan might want to take them serious. As a boring old American or European, you should lolz at them. The last bombing attempt had the bomber literally blow his dick off, and then get his ass kicked by civilians. In fact, getting their ass kicked by civilians is more or less the name of the game these days.

      If you are an American, you are going to die a boring death. Get over it. You are most likely going to literally eat yourself to death. The shit you eat is going to kill you, not the terrorist. Old Ronald McDonald has murdered many orders of magnitude more Americans than these sheep herders and depressed losers who want to kill themselves because they can get no pussy.

      The TRILLIONS we are spending on preventing an obscure way to die has been completely pissed away. Spending that money to pumping the fat from American ass would have been better spent, to say nothing of spending a few bucks to encouraging Americans to eat a little healthier. Hell, if we had pissed all those trillions away on training people in the Heimlich maneuver to prevent Americans from choking on the shit they have stuffed into their face, we would have saved more American lives.

      We should be laughing at these stupid completely un-scary assholes. We learned all we needed to learn during 9/11 on how to deal with these guys. If you see someone acting like a crazy asshole, assume they are trying to kill you and kick their ass, don’t wait for government help. That was the one and only worthy lesson of 9/11. See asshole, kick assholes ass, don’t wait for the police or hostage negotiators.

      If there is any more laughing to be done, it should be at ourself. I don’t know about you, but I start to manically laugh and cry when when I think of the trillions we have pissed away on security against these sad, pathetic losers.

      1. See asshole, kick assholes ass, don’t wait for the police or hostage negotiators.

        If I were the bumper sticker type, this would be a must.

        We could always export the Golden Arches to our enemies’ lands. Oh wait, we’re already doing that.

  14. “they were greeted with garbled computer code.
    The code, …, was actually a web page of recipes”

    Was it a web page or was it garbled code?

    Was it :
    #ifdef GAS
    {set MARK=6}
    #ifdef ELECTRIC
    {set TEMP=170}
    food main (ingredients)
    while (flour<100g) {flour+=flour}
    break (egg)
    if (mix(flour+egg)=smooth)
    return (cupcakes)

    Personally I suspect that Telegraph’s IT skill level is such that they are unable to differentiate between a dump of the HTML source of a web page and garbled computer code. Still it’s a shame to let a few simple facts get in the way of an amusing sounding story.
    (I suppose the original HTML source could have been created with a microsoft tool, that tends to create very garbled code)

    PS that isn’t a tasty cupcake recipe…

  15. Clearly there is potential for an Al Qaida press release stating that in fact, “The cake is a lie”

  16. I’m inclined to believe that this is a story that MI6 wants out there. The Torygraph is known to have a very good relationship with the UK intel community. The story’s truthiness is another matter, of course.

    1. The guardian is reporting it was GCHQ (our NSA) rather than mi6. This makes much more sence to me.


  17. If Seal Team 6 can take on Disney, I’m fairly confident MI-6 has nothing to worry about from Ellen.

Comments are closed.