Anarchist hackers go to cyber war with ISIS

  • Posted on: 12 February 2015
  • By: Anonymous (not verified)

From The Hill

The global hacker collective known as Anonymous is storming the international political scene with a brash hacking campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The shadowy anarchist group, which is known for waging online attacks on everyone from the U.S. government to the Church of Scientology, is trying to dismantle the vast social media operation that helps ISIS recruit new followers.

By exposing and disabling hundreds of Twitter accounts, email addresses and websites purportedly affiliated with ISIS, hackers with Anonymous are all but inviting the notoriously Web-savvy terrorist group to an online war.

“In an interesting way, they are set up as perfect nemeses,” said Gabriella Coleman, anthropologist and author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. “There are a lot of similarities in terms of how they use social media. It doesn’t surprise me that they would battle each other online.”

Anonymous first became a force online in 2003, when like-minded users of the website 4chan began staging pranks on social media networks. In 2008, its efforts turned to “hacktivism” when the Church of Scientology riled Internet users by trying to suppress a widely scorned promotional video for the religion that featured the actor Tom Cruise.

The subsequent hacking campaign against the church would be the first of many by Anonymous to gain support from Internet users opposed to censorship.

The group’s motto, “Expect us,” signaled that no offending company or organization would be safe from cyberattacks, and its logistical support for movements like the Arab Spring garnered praise.

But as Anonymous grew into a global movement, the group symbolized by the Guy Fawkes mask also became a cultural lightning rod, at times stirring controversy in Washington.

Anonymous appears to be firmly on the side of the United States when it comes to the conflict with ISIS, however.

The hacking group made headlines this week when it took to a public forum to post hundreds of social media accounts and websites that it claimed were affiliated with the jihadist group.

As of Wednesday, many of the ISIS sites remained inaccessible or disabled after members of Anonymous launched denial-of-service attacks, flooding the pages with traffic. Many of the Twitter accounts appeared to be suspended.

The attacks came the same day that hackers claiming affiliation with ISIS took over a variety of U.S. media feeds, including the Twitter account of Newsweek magazine.

During the 14 minutes that hackers were in control of the Newsweek account, they draped it in images of a masked man and posted a message threatening first lady Michelle Obama. The message quickly grabbed attention online.

If authentic, the attack on Newsweek reaffirms ISIS’s taste for spectacle — something it shares with Anonymous — as well as its ability to harness the power of social media for attention.

“The thing to know about ISIS and social media is that they are old hands at this,” said William McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution.

“They were one of the first and most effective jihadist groups in getting their propaganda out through discussion boards. They’ve evolved along with social media, and have been doing this a long time.”

ISIS’s aggressive use of social media has been apparent to Web users bombarded almost weekly with reports and videos of vicious killings.

In a particularly sadistic example, ISIS recently posted video of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

Intelligence officials have used the terror group’s prominent online presence to track its activities, and some suspect U.S. spies have created fake jihadist websites to attract its members.

This has led some foreign policy experts to criticize Anonymous’s campaign on the grounds that it could hurt intelligence gathering. Others question the effectiveness of the hacks, because ISIS can easily revive Web activities under new accounts.

And yet the increasingly savage displays by ISIS have also brought a certain heroic quality to Anonymous’s efforts, even if the group is viewed as potentially dangerous.

The campaign against ISIS started last summer but intensified after the terrorist attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris on Jan. 7. With the hashtag “OpISIS,” Anonymous has claimed to have disabled thousands of sites with ISIS ties.

“This is something everyone can get behind,” Coleman said. “Certainly the general public can support cutting off [ISIS’s] propaganda wing. It might not wipe them out, but given how important that online presence is to ISIS, a momentary dent can mean a lot.”



Obviously I don't identify with ISIS beyond recognizing that the full-force of the western propaganda apparatus is being turned against them right now. But who are these people fronting as Anonymous? Are they western cyber-spooks using the trendy Guy Fawkes mask or are they genuine idealists who're only coincidentally aligning themselves with western imperialism because they think it's the lesser evil? Maybe both because there's a lot of people with different agendas?

For years now, I've been seeing the various campaigns claimed by Anonymous, baffled by how these kids are selecting their targets. I guess somebody like Jeremy Hammond, who actually has an analysis, is the exception rather than the rule.

they're moralistic populists. their targets are usually obvious villains and yes, they have no analysis.

It is possible to attack ISIS without supporting Western imperialism.

OP here, I agree. It's just a shame that you automatically end up being part of that xenophobic "clash-of-civilzations" narrative whenever the media talks about your efforts.

Anonymous has been attacking tons of targets in the West, way more than they did anything against Muslim fascists. So that's why it's preposterous to say that they are supporting a Western agenda. Their other big campaign right now is to expose the paeophile rings in the British establishment, something that NSA or CIA tools would never do unless they wanna end up like Chelsea Manning.

If you want a suspicious hacker group that's been doing that, look at Telecomix, who collapsed at about the same time than the gigantic false flag chemical attack in the summer of 2013 was exposed.

I'm aware of that, you seem to be very defensive of anonymous efforts but by definition, anyone could claim to be them at any time, right? How do you know who you're even defending? I like a lot of what various factions of anonymous have done too but my curiosity about target selection stands.

I've been waiting eagerly for years for them to start taking on more serious shit and since the uprisings in north africa, it's seemed like they are! But as the struggles get more serious, they're going to run in to a cyber-version of the same old debates around black bloc tactics i.e.. anyone can pick up their flag and start waving it

I DON'T GIVE A FUCK about who they are, kapish? No matter how fucked up they might be, their praxis involves taking down websites and twitter pages of murderous authoritarians and revealing explosive information about them, not about butchering people and burning people alive because they are "infidels". Fuck Islam, fuck Mohammed and fuck religions.

… that's good for you kid. Nobody here is debating whether islamic fundamentalism is cool or not? You might not be curious about how anarchist praxis is developing online but I am? Which is why I posted the question?

For instance, vehement reactionary positions like STFU-I-HATE-ISLAM would be a very underdeveloped analysis.

A shame, but not a deal breaker.

Did I just fucking read this shit? Un-fucking-believable that such retardation still exists.

ISIS are fully serving the West's agenda you clueless liberal. Their leader in Pakistan even admitted that their funding was coming from US banks. They are the offspring of Muslim Brotherhood-backed Muslim jihadists, and this organization was proven to be both related to the Democrat Party and the neocons, as well as the Saudi regime. The Muslim fascist regime of Erdogan was proven to support ISIS at least by letting them hold meetings in Turkey and crossing the border with Syrian without problem, and as you may know TUrkey is a dear NATO member.

easy there champ, first of all, you come on way too strong without asking for clarification on anything. You have no idea what my views on the real-politik of this stuff are. I was referring to the narrative of the article, which comes from the general media narrative around the "war" against ISIS. I could easily dismiss you as a tin-foil hat alex jones type but I don't, I'm cynical enough to leave room for the types of manoeuvres you're talking about.

Still, various NATO forces are fighting ISIS, are they not? You could talk about the real motivations in Irag and afghanistan but the ground war would still exist, regardless of which conspiracy theory you buy in to. I wasn't talking about the why of the conflict itself at all. I was talking about the people who constitute the freelancer hacker efforts.

Well, who are these people isn't anyone's business as far as they aren't Western Christian zealots or shills on some agency's payroll.

Also... since the YPG and Peshmerga have been fighting against those zombies much harder and for much longer than NATO troops as well as the FSA did, does that make them by default Western collaborators? That logic is stupid. If there are proven Western collaborators in disputed Syria it's the FSA, and especially their ex-allies the Jabhad Al-Nusra/Al Qaeda.

And as far as claims are backed up and the evidence can be found with a simple web search, that doesn't count for "conpiracy theory" anymore... just ordinary covert politics like what's been done in the Middle-East for several decades. Just because CNN didn't talk about it doesn't make it a conspiracy theory.

Read on logic fallacies and how do they work.

There are three not two factions in that current shit storm in the Middle-East, perhaps even four, connected to bigger global blocs, and the alliances from behind aren't all what they look like on the shopfront.

You keep putting words in my post that weren't there … I don't use the term "conspiracy theory" to dismiss things, I mean it literally. No, of course everyone fighting against ISIS isn't a western collaborator and I agree with you that the middle-east has been subject to "political engineering" by various conglomerations of power since long before either of us were born.

You need to "read up on" how to engage anybody on anything without calling them a "retard" or cramming entire geo-political arguments/worldviews in to their mouth. Kneejerk hostility much?

Okay I may have been rude and funnel judgemental and I'm sorry for this... Just that your assumption of Anonymous as NATO supporters and your apparent victimizing of ISIS looked quite fucked up at least on the surface.

well I am pretty fucked up! But I'm also trying to look beyond "good guys versus bad guys" here. There's just the minority of people who act on their convictions and the why of it. Not that I'm a nihilist but couching everything in morality is how everyone justifies their shit, including ISIS

ISIS is a political cult that used (perhaps still using) the Muslim Brotherhood to recruit impoverished, excluded, repressed, disenfranchised Muslim men all over the planet with the promise of a gun, a wife (or a boy sex slave) and a job for the regime. In all that I've found on them, that's what they appear to be, beyond the good and evil Western movie depiction. But still just as the Nazi SS and the Khmer Rouge, they are too much brainwashed and conditioned to be taken for "innocent pawns". Pawns yes, but no longer innocent.

Ooh, doo tellll. "All that you've found on them"? You speak Arabic, I presume? Have friends in Muslim communities? Because you certainly couldn't be foolish enough to judge these people based entirely on English-language Internet sources. Right? Look, you're not going to draw me into defending this satirical group that is clearly an invention of HASBRO, because I can tear apart your analysis without doing that. You have no analysis. How do you think anarchists look to someone who does the kind of "looking" you've done? You know nothing about life. None of us are innocent and all of us are pawns.

Okay but before I go cry in a corner away from your almighty invectives, would you tear apart my analysis? What's your groundbreaking insider knowledge of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Takfiri salafist organizations and more importantly their status and influence among the Muslim world? Or have you got any other deeper and broader sociological perspective to present that would significantly negate my analysis?

Also make sure to back up your stuff, or at least provide with easily-verifiable claims.

"easily-verifiable claims"

What the fuck? Seriously? What are you?

People are people. You're not different from someone whose friends are ISIS members and so is also a member himself. I say again, none of us are innocent and all of us are pawns. And yet the path we take is infinitely complex and you know nothing of mine as I know nothing of yours.

Look into your heart, if you can do that, you will easily very what I say. Otherwise, you're a tool.

Who the fuck are you to say that "no one is innocent"? Only despots and cops think like that. Complex paths indeed!

circular talkin is circular talkin

Hey, just FYI, that was some other person who jumped in there and it was a little dickish of them to fail to mention that.

It's not that I don't understand how islamic radicalism uses various sneaky recruitment techniques, I'm just always ultra-cynical about any attempts to label the latest enemy of the west as super-villians. An example would be the impassioned cries of how terribly sharia law treats women to justify military occupation in one country while western companies and states are enriching themselves by cutting deals with equally misogynistic fanatics a few thousand miles away. Rarely, are there ever actual "good guys" so I'm just really skeptical about any narratives that try to reduce geopolitics to the plot of a disney movie.

...they also had the CHOICE to join ISIS/Daesh/Al Nusrah. Just as the cops had the choice to go to police academy or something else. There is the brainwashing part which gives the sense of entitlement and moral superiority, there is also the socially-created need for gaining the privileged social-political status that cops appear to enjoy, but they were never conscripted into these chains of command. This is where you got the biggest argument against the "cops just doing their jobs".

If they would, that would at least remove them from responsibility for the atrocities they commit.

Maybe your analysis is inverted by the inevitable binary paradox? ISIS members may believe and be committed to "their job doing in the cops" and all those who support them.

Comments here have went sporadic these days anyways. If you're lucky I might still care about this bickering tomorrow.

Where's emile? He would have some interesting concepts to juxtapose into this multi-faceted discussion?

For the lulz! That's the original aspiration, for fun, just enough people have to think so too.

this article says that anonymous is a "shadowy anarchist group" um... not true. Anon my have anarchists in it, its structure may by anarchistic, and if you were looking at just the whole hive you could say that there are some seriously anarchist tendencies ocuuring but you could not say that anonymous is an anarchist group, duh.

The only part of this designation that's not true here is "group". They aren't a group but a movement, or at beast an informal decentralized organization.

But Anonymous is definitely anarchist from any perspective I can look at. Unless you think "anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian communism are the only true anarchism", so you could put the "Anarchist" stamp on them as soon as they'd be having the Red and Black flag and talking about Goldman, Makhno, Durruti and Malatesta..­. I think they're much more pragmatic and serious people, even if immature, for doing such lame posing.

Their blurry goal for the kind of world they want to achieve is simplistic and a bit shallow, though it's totally into line with old-school anarchist. You appear to be drawing distinctions where there aren't any... it's useful for Power to keep anarchists small and divided.

You know the French anarchists don't talk much about anarchism in real life? They shut the fuck up and they do it.

You don't need months of debates on the anarchistic nature of organized looting and sabotage, only philosophers need it, and they'll never go further than discussing.

Funny seeing all these posts from Anonymous criticizing Anonymous.

Anonymous is not one cohesive / unified organization as the article incorrectly tries to insinuate and some of the comments so far on this post feed into that fallacy.

Anonymous is very faction ridden - this 'unified hive mind' theory is nonsense. There are several explicitly anarchist factions of Anonymous who have carried out actions in solidarity with anarchist prisoners for example.

Here are a just a couple of examples of such actions:

Action in solidarity with grand jury resisters

Action against Greek police and government online presence dedicated to imprisoned members of Conspiracy Cells of Fire and Revolutionary Struggle and other imprisoned anarchists

And of course there were the antisec / lulzsec actions but there have been plenty of other actions too.

Not sure how many anarchist anons are involved in the anti-ISIS operation, maybe none at all? Hard to say really.

Yes, this. Thank you.

Yeah, its like how people have been defending the black bloc for decades, trying to explain over and over that it's a tactic, not an identity/organization. People are always going to be confused by the powerful imagery but what's interesting to me is watching this whole new realm of struggle go through it's adolescence and start to really step up to the plate. It's exciting and sometimes painful to watch but speaking as an outsider, the last few years have been pretty impressive.

Can only hope more smart anarchists pick up the tools and jump in the fray

I don't think you understand how hive mind (=anarchist organization) works.

Turkish Anonymous protesting against the Islamization of education....

wasnt "Anonymous" something that grew out of the "/b/" subreddit raiding other subreddits? cause I'm bettin all my shekels it was

Some anarchists also grew out from IRC trolling or playing Counterstrike online... what's your point

"Hacking group Anonymous claimed responsibility for targeting nearly 800 Twitter accounts, 12 Facebook pages and over 50 email addresses because of their links with ISIS."

I'm just glad to see some ninjas coming into the scene. Nice work team!

Suddenry... A hundred ninjas.

black bloc's just one step behind the cool gadgety weapons for street fights. Look forward RF jammers and DIY wrist nailguns. That, with the ability to disappear behind a passing truck...

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