Photo: Flickr/Marjan Krebelj
They’re saying it’s a campaign to defend “the prophet of Allah.”Several Western websites have been compromised recently as a part of a concerted effort by a group dubbed the “Arab Electronic Army” to get some payback for the recent YouTube anti-Islamic film everyone’s been talking about.
Antone Gonsalves of CSO Online reports that nine sites were attacked, and that of those nine at least five were down or showing “messages praising Allah’s prophet.” Gonsalves notes that many of the growing attacks coming out of the Arab world could be just ‘denial of service’ attacks linked to economic sanctions against Iran (the same sanctions that angered Iranian World of Warcraft players).
According to CSO Online, seven of the nine attacked sites had Brazilian URLs, meaning they’re Western but not American. Recently though, supposed ‘Iranian’ hackers attacked bigger targets, in America.
Reuters reported Sep. 21 that a few major American banks had experienced cyber attacks from Iran, supposedly using “beefed up” cyber resources developed since and in response to the Stuxnet and Flame viruses.
These may not, and are in all likelihood not, located all in one place. A Pakistani news source refers to the hackers as the Anonymous of the Islamic world. Part of what makes Anonymous crowd sourcing techniques so effective is the use of different pools of personnel, concurrently, in different parts of the world.
Al Arabiya, who allegedly talked to one of the team’s members, reported that the hackers are indeed spread all around the region. From the site:
Ridouan [hacker alias RéD-Zàr], the spokesman for the group, explained that after he proposed the idea of forming an “electronic army” he received wide support from young Muslim hackers to “repel all offenses against our religion.”
Ridouan confirmed to Al Arabiya the locations and handles of a few fellow hacktevists, from Saudi, Syria and Morocco. Whether his interview, admission and name-dropping was just a troll meant to throw off reporters and investigators alike is also a possibility.
A hacker group of the same name, the “Syria Electronic Army” boasts attacks as well, and may just be an arm of the same Islamic Anonymous Collective.
There’s also a ‘group’ in Gaza, calling themselves the “Gaza Hacker Team,” which made headlines in Israel over the weekend who actually succeeded in hacking the head Rabbinite’s website.
The website, which ordinarily provides information for government-provided religious services, sported a black background on which the hackers wrote “a message for all Jewses [sic]” in English. “Your safety and security are linked to the safety of Palestinian captives whose [sic] on hunger strike You [sic] must responds [sic] to their demands soon. Otherwise, let you wait [sic] the Palestinian missiles if anyone of the Palestinian captives was in bad healthy situation [sic],” the hackers wrote.
The Times report quotes the hackers, translated from Arabic, as saying, “One is wrong to fight a war he can avoid, but one is more wrong if he doesn’t fight a war that was forced upon him… And if your freedom of speech is uncontrolled… so your chest should be wide for the freedom of our actions.”
Undoubtedly this is reference to the ire felt within the Muslim world for perceived disrespect for Islam and Muhammed in a cheesy film uploaded to YouTube in June and translated into Arabic in September.
Also, though Anonymous and other hackers have been around for a few decades, it wasn’t until recently that the Arab world had the necessary infrasctructure for or even the concept of cyber warfare—this realisation is, again, in all likelihood a result of highly publicized American attacks on Iran.
Blasphemy is a crime punishable by death in some Islamic Republics. The fury directed toward the American government to “protect religion” from U.S. citizen’s “freedom of speech” highlights the sharp cultural disconnect between the Western and Muslim worlds.
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