Anonymous Hacks ISIS Websites, Proving It Could Be An Unlikely Ally With The U.S. & Other Governments
Anonymous might have given governments worldwide a reason to begrudgingly thank them. The anarchist hacktivist group and online troublemakers would not normally inspire praise from government agencies, whom Anonymous has targeted in the past, and some critics have even labeled them as "cyber terrorists." But what would the critics say if the group took on actual terrorists? According to the hacking group, Anonymous has taken down ISIS websites and social media accounts as part of the war it declared on the terrorist organization last month. Who would have thought that anarchy could align with government agendas?
On Sunday, Anonymous posted a list of more than 1,000 associated social media accounts, emails, and recruitment websites that it had "exposed and destroyed." Along with the list, Anonymous issued the following statement:
We are: Muslims, Christians, Jews. We Are hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy from next door.... We Are Anonymous.Remember, the terrorists that are calling themselves Islamic State (ISIS) are not Muslims!ISIS, we will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you. From now on, no safe place for you online.
The group's latest hack attack was part of their ongoing Operation ISIS (#OPISIS) mission, which they first announced in June in response to the terror organization's emergence, but reiterated more recently after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
The same day as the Jan. 7 massacre in France, Anonymous posted a clip on YouTube in which a member wearing the group's signature Guy Fawkes mask says, "We are declaring war against you, the terrorists." Days later, the group announced that Operation Charlie Hebdo had claimed its first victim, a French jihadist website. A month later, the group claims to have taken down roughly 1,000 more.
While several countries have been focusing their fight against ISIS through airstrikes and coordinated ground combat, one domain that the terror group has a deft control over has been the Internet and social media. Could Anonymous' offensive be the missing prong the U.S.-led international coalition needs to take ISIS down? Hey, if Obama asked Iran for help, he could surely consider Anonymous as a possible ally, right?
In a world that many often see in black and white, especially when viewing current events in our political and social landscape, Anonymous has always lurked in the gray areas. The hacking group has been a source of ire for the U.S. government, who was the focus of a series of cyber attacks in 2013, as well as international governments like Hong Kong's, whom they declared war on after law enforcement used physical force on protesters. Similarly, after the Ferguson shooting in August, an Anonymous-associated group helped to organize cyber-protests and vowed to take down the city's servers if any demonstrators were harmed.
Other targets include big corporations (Anonymous formed a major backbone to the Occupy Wall Street movement), religious organizations (namely the Church of Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church), child pornography sites, white supremacists, the Ugandan government (over LGBT rights), and North Korea.
Judging by who it chooses to target and its motivations, it's clear that Anonymous shouldn't be written off as a bunch of havoc-wreaking cyber terrorists who want nothing more than disorder. There's a reason why they've often been called "freedom fighters"; they fight for the powerless and voiceless as part of their higher mission of serving justice. Of course, it's a challenge to get everyone to take this view when the group is morally ambiguous and constantly breaks the law.
Regardless of the group's means, what can't be ignored is how effectively they achieve their ends. And again, if the U.S. is willing to go to lengths to degrade and destroy ISIS, then perhaps it's time to set aside its differences with Anonymous and focus on shared goals.
Images: Getty Images (3)