April 11 —
A Web site that pokes fun at Saddam Hussein's minister of
information became such a global hit that its operators had to
temporarily pull the plug Friday as they scrambled for more powerful
To help pay for the upgrades, the site will sell T-shirts, mugs
and barbecue aprons featuring choice quotes from Mohammed Saeed
al-Sahhaf, who maintained with a straight face that Iraqi troops
were routing the Americans even as U.S. tanks busted through
The site, WeLoveTheIraqiInformationMinister.com, features quotes
as well as obviously doctored photos showing al-Sahhaf boasting of
the Confederacy's successes during the Civil War and Darth Vader's
victories in the "Star Wars" movies.
"My feelings as usual we will slaughter them all," reads one
quote from al-Sahhaf from two days before Baghdad fell.
Until he disappeared Tuesday, al-Sahhaf was the colorful face of
Saddam's regime. Some Arabs, getting a kick out of how al-Sahhaf
ridicules President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, even
called his daily news conferences "the "al-Sahhaf show."
In the United States, Conn Nugent and his friends got a kick out
of the comments, too, and decided to create the Web site
The site, Nugent said, was meant as a private joke.
"We didn't advertise it at all," he said. "We just sent it to our
Within hours, someone at the Pentagon got wind of it, and soon
word spread to journalists, Nugent said. By Friday, many Web
journals, called blogs, referred to the site. Internet users also
circulated e-mail telling friends to check it out.
Nugent said the group's contract with its Web host called for a
limit of 2,000 hits a month but the site was getting 4,000 per
second, putting other businesses sharing that host in jeopardy. The
group looked for more powerful servers and decided to shut down
after crashing four.
It's not the first time a site got too popular.
One blog, "Live From the Sandbox," had to switch servers and
domain names soon after the war began. Another, ostensibly written
from Baghdad, was upgraded for free by its hosts.
In this case, Nugent and his pals will essentially be paying for
their successes in Internet spontaneity. Technicians were working
Friday to find and pay for a Web hosting computer powerful enough to
handle the worldwide traffic.
"It's worth it," said Nugent, who runs an environmentalist
foundation in New York. "How else are we going to have fun in this
On the Net:
Live From the Sandbox:
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or