June 4, 2011 — -- British intelligence forces hacked into the website of al Qaeda's English-language magazine, Inspire, and replaced bombmaking instructions with a recipe for one of Ellen Degeneres' favorite cupcakes.
The secret weapon at Main Street Cupcakes, a small bakery in Rocky River, Ohio, has always been their mojito cupcakes -- a white rum cake with a twist of lime and mint -- just like the drink but sweeter. But bakery co-owners and sisters Sarah Forrer and Kimberly Martin said they were not terribly happy when they learned of their bakery's new claim to fame.
"I got an alert on my phone and certainly was not happy to see Main Street Cupcakes in the same sentence as al Qaeda," Forrer told ABC News.
But MI6, the United Kingdom's version of the CIA, was certainly pleased with the news. In a cyber-warfare operation, British intelligence officials hacked into Inspire, al Qaeda's magazine, where wannabe terrorists swap strategies and plans. When readers tried to download the 67-page magazine, instead of getting "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," by "The AQ Chef," they received jumbled computer code. Once deciphered, the code led to a recipe for Main Street's mojito cupcakes.
MI6 also removed articles by Osama bin Laden, his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri and a piece called "What to Expect in Jihad."
The magazine is produced by the radical Islamic leader Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the leaders of AQAP. Al-Awlaki has dual Yemen and U.S. citizenship, but is thought to be hiding Yemen. His associate Samir Khan from North Carolina produces the magazine with al-Awlaki. Since MI6 hacked into the magazine, it has been reissued.
As for Main Street Cupcakes, they had nothing to do with Operation Cupcake.
"We definitely found this to be just a surreal experience. I assure you there's nothing sinister behind our cupcake shop," Forrer said.