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What Is The Darknet?

PDF: Kadar Search Warrant

The darknet, or dark web, is a part of the internet not accessible through popular web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. It is also not indexed by search engines like Google and Bing.

The most common way to access a darknet is with a Tor browser where websites carry the .onion domain. This was home to the now-defunct AlphaBay (pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion), an online marketplace for drugs, malware and illicit services. Other darknets include Freenet and I2P.

While darknets are known for nefarious activities, including the sales of counterfeit goods, drugs, guns and child porn, they are also championed for the technology’s ability to promote free speech. The Tor Project even lists the U.S. Government’s National Science Foundation and the State Department as active sponsors in 2017.


An emailed March 8 bomb threat at Rancho Cotate High School warning students and faculty would be “massacred mercilessly” that day has been linked to two international investigations and a bomb threat-for-hire service on the dark web.

Unsealed federal court documents reveal that Michael Kadar, a 19-year-old with dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship, was hired to send a threat to the Rohnert Park school for as little as $30.

Kadar is also believed to be responsible for 245 threats mainly targeting Jewish community centers across the U.S. early this year from his home in Ashkelon, Israel.

In March, Kadar was arrested by Israeli authorities on suspicion of making the threats that drew national headlines and concern. He remains incarcerated in Israel awaiting extradition to the U.S. to be tried in federal court in Florida, according to multiple media reports.

Kadar posted his bomb threat-for-hire services on AlphaBay, a dark web, or darknet, marketplace for drugs, malware and illicit services, according to the search warrant unsealed by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The site was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice in July. AlphaBay’s creator, 25-year-old Canadian citizen Alexandre Cazes, was arrested July 5 in Thailand and committed suicide a week later while in a Thai jail.

It was not revealed who ordered the March 8 threat, which forced nearly 1,500 students and 100 faculty to evacuate Rancho Cotate High School around 11:30 a.m., but whomever did was happy with the results.

“Amazing on time and on target,” an AlphaBay user linked to the Rancho Cotate bomb threat wrote on Kadar’s alleged user profile. “We got evacuated and got the day cut short.”

Rohnert Park Public Safety Cmdr. Aaron Johnson said he was aware Rancho Cotate High School was named in the case but declined comment, saying the investigation is being handled by the FBI. Officials at the FBI’s San Francisco office and in Washington declined comment.

According to the unsealed federal search warrant, Kadar is alleged to have begun advertising a “School Email Bomb Threat Service” on AlphaBay Feb. 8. At the same time, Kadar allegedly engaged in scores of telephone and email threats of bombs and mass shootings primarily targeting Jewish community centers, Anti-Defamation League offices and other institutions related to Judaism in 15 states, federal authorities said.

The threat at Rancho Cotate High is the only one identified in court documents as having links to the dark web bomb threat-for-hire service.

Kadar advertised his service in customer-friendly terms, even offering refunds for unsuccessful threats.

“I email bomb threats to schools on your requests (sic),” wrote AlphaBay user Darknet_Legend, whom authorities believe to be Kadar. “If you need someone to do this job for you then this service is for you.”

AlphaBay transactions used Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency and anonymous peer-to-peer payment system. For $30 in Bitcoin Kadar would send a bomb threat to a school, according to unsealed documents. For another $15 Kadar would frame someone for the threat, but wouldn’t guarantee setting someone up would lead to the person’s arrest.

It’s not clear from the unsealed documents if the person who hired Kadar to allegedly send the bomb threat also paid to have someone framed.

What Is The Darknet?

PDF: Kadar Search Warrant

The darknet, or dark web, is a part of the internet not accessible through popular web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. It is also not indexed by search engines like Google and Bing.

The most common way to access a darknet is with a Tor browser where websites carry the .onion domain. This was home to the now-defunct AlphaBay (pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion), an online marketplace for drugs, malware and illicit services. Other darknets include Freenet and I2P.

While darknets are known for nefarious activities, including the sales of counterfeit goods, drugs, guns and child porn, they are also championed for the technology’s ability to promote free speech. The Tor Project even lists the U.S. Government’s National Science Foundation and the State Department as active sponsors in 2017.

About 11:30 a.m. on the day of the threat, six Rancho Cotate administrators received a threatening message from a Gmail account that read:

“I’m concerning Rancho Cotate High School. My comrades successfully planted a few bombs at School. We have bombs hidden around the center. They are pipe bombs, hidden around the School. They will be detonated via lighter by my team. To top all that off, We have assault rifles and Machine pistols. The Children and Staff will be massacred mercilessly shortly.”

Administrators alerted Rohnert Park Public Safety and had students evacuate to the football field on school grounds. By 12:45 p.m., classes were canceled and students were sent home.

“When we’re forced to evacuate a school with 1,500 students and staff, that creates an unsafe situation,” said Robert Haley, superintendent of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District.

Haley would not comment further on the FBI’s ongoing investigation, but did say the dark web link to the Rancho Cotate bomb scare is “now in the public record.”

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or nick.rahaim@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @nrahaim.