The United Kingdom’s intelligence service has pulled off an operation improbable enough to be worthy of James Bond’s Q Branch. A team of hackers working for M16 recently successfully switched an Al-Qaeda bomb making guide for a far less incendiary cupcake recipe, according to The Telegraph.
The operation rendered a 67-page guide on how to “Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” posted on Al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine Inspire into a page of garbled gibberish. That gibberish, as it turns out, was actually an encrypted form of “How to Make the Best Cupcakes in America” published by Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show.
The embedded recipe was attributed to Main Street Cupcakes in Hudson, Ohio and included lines such as, “the little cupcake is big again” while claiming that the cupcake is “self-contained and satisfying, it summons memories of childhood even as it’s updated for today’s sweet-toothed hipsters.” Instructions for making Mojito, Rocky Road and Caramel Apple cupcakes are said to have been included in the coded page.
The original plan had contained instructions for making a pipe bomb using match heads, a small lightbulb, a timer and, oddly enough, sugar.
The hackers also went on to remove potential propaganda from the site that included articles written by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The Telegraph points out that the C.I.A. had previously conceived of a similar plan that it ultimately chose not to execute on the grounds that Inspire was a better source of intelligence if left unmolested. There’s no word as to if the C.I.A. would have chosen a similar pastry-oriented hack if it had decided to follow through with its plan.