The hacker group Anonymous on Sunday declared “war” on ISIS, but not all of them are rallying behind the cause.
A hacker affiliated with the group who goes by the name “X” told Tech Insider in an email on Tuesday that he “does not agree with … nor [would he] actively support” Operation ISIS, though he’d never disrespect another Anonymous member’s operation if it was in line with the group’s central principles. “Some ops are better than others,” he said.
His primary complaint: The main beneficiary of any cyberattacks against ISIS would be the U.S. government and NATO countries, which he explains, have been after him and members of Anonymous for years.
“These very same organisations have long listed Anonymous as a ‘foreign terrorist group’ right along with ISIS, and for this reason Anonymous has been for several years at war with NATO and the USA,” X told TI. To be clear, the U.S. State Department designates foreign terrorist organisations and Anonymous is not among them, though X is likely referring to comments made by former NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander in 2012.
“It seems rather foolish to me to be aiding our mortal enemies, who lock up and even torture Anons — in a fight against an evil that they themselves actually created. If the USA and Europe were willing to release our Anon POW’s, and agree to stop attacking us – in exchange for our rather ample assistance against ISIS, well – that might be different. Until then, I say let NATO and the USA fight their own monsters. At least the resources they will need to dedicated to hunting ISIS can not be used to hunt Anons.”
X — who can be easily identified with a Google search but asked TI to use only his online name — says he is not alone within Anonymous in his position.
Other dissenters have posted letters at Pastebin, like an Anon hacker named “Discordian,” who offered four critiques against Operation Paris (the name taken on after the Paris, France terror attacks last week also referred to as Operation ISIS). His chief concerns are the operation name, motives behind its launch, the media attention its been getting, and whether Anonymous can deliver on its promises.
“This has nothing to do with stopping ISIS (didn’t we already have Operation ISIS?) It’s about stroking the ego of Anonymous in a desperate attempt to be relevant,” the Anon wrote. This view from inside Anonymous is shared outside by at least one of Anonymous’ biggest detractors, a hacker called The Jester, who told TI he believed it would be “the usual case of Anonymous jumping on a big news story.”
But perhaps it is Discordian’s third point which is most interesting:
“Under section #7 of the rules of the internet, it clearly states ‘Anonymous is still able to deliver,'” he writes. “How exactly do they plan to stop an international terrorist organisation that has been able to plot attacks regardless of the mass-spying by governments around the globe? Taking down their communications may disrupt valuable intelligence that can be used to track down these terrorists.”
Surprisingly, the public debate within Anonymous has been quite civil. In response Discordian, “Backslash” — who helps run the 248,000 follower strong @GroupAnon Twitter account — also wrote at Pastebin that “perhaps Anonymous needs a wider debate on this subject.”
He writes (edited for clarity): “Discordian is also right to point out that #OpParis, and admittedly to some extent #OpISIS, may be a hindrance in some instances, disrupting vital intelligence. We have been happy to work with global intelligence agencies to provide them with the information we have gained by infiltrating jihadi networks. We should not be afraid to work with governments if our goals are aligned. #GhostSec has been successful in thwarting actual planned attacks. However, we urge anons to be cautious — don’t act recklessly. If you really want to fight Daesh, listen to Discordian and others, and act intelligently. Don’t make empty promises.”
He added: “I only hope we can be united.”
So far, Anonymous is claiming it’s helped get more than 5,000 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts shut down, with no sign the operation is slowing. “No IS member shall rest,” the group announced on its new website for the operation, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State.
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