So Anonymous, the hacktivist network, has vowed to take on ISIS. This is quite an interesting development and not one which was so unexpected, Anonymous have been targeting extremists since the Charlie Hebdo attacks but let’s have a look at what is happening here.
Throughout history there have been struggles where a larger power is pitted against a more guerilla, less traditional force, a case in point of course would be the Vietnam war but this is different.
ISIS grew out of the seeds of resentment sown by the west in the detention and torture camps in the middle east but they are different, this is not a national force fighting for a nation, this is a force built up of members of the opposing sides populaces fighting to establish a caliphate within the middle east and opposing everything we stand for as the west becomes the enemy and ISIS become the threat that the USA needs as the conflict society it is. They are based around a religious cause but this is no religious war, these guys kill as many muslims as they do anyone else, other forms of Islam are considered as offensive to their views as western values.
Anonymous also grew out of the populaces of the rest of the world, the bored, disenfranchised kids of the west, the bedroom Neros who feel the need to rebel but want to contribute to the bigger picture, they want to deliver justice where they see injustice. These guys do not have an agenda, they have many, the latest being to do everything they can to disrupt the communication and recruitment channels of ISIS, channels which use a propaganda machine to groom vulnerable muslims and turn them into radical militants, channels which are massively important to ISIS.
ISIS have hackers among their midst, they have programmers, filmmakers and video editors: they are making the business of terrorism very media savvy, in fact it is these very skills mixed with clever grooming and religious rhetoric, and let us not forget the actions of the west, which help ISIS recruit new soldiers so quickly and effectively. Anonymous are entirely made up of people with similar skillsets. In a recent communication on the file sharing website Anonymous use to communicate with the world, Pastebin, a spokesperson for anonymous wrote;
“They don’t have hackers like we have hackers.”
This would seem to be true. After ISIS replied to Anonymous calling them idiots, Anonymous very quickly closed down nearly six thousand allegedly extremist social media channels, as they say, they are legion. Tens of thousands of of people all over the world aiming for the one target can get a lot done quickly.
Another interesting point is that there is a democratic discussion between groups within Anonymous and even between individual members carried out over Pastbin, I was reading one recently who had misgivings over whether #OpParis was a good idea as it made the anti ISIS ops seem too focused geographically, this was answered by another member affiliated with one of the other groups and the discussion goes on.
Now maybe it’s a combination of rhetoric, good marketing and a romantic notion painted by the media but Anonymous certainly have a bit of the Robin Hood about them and the powers that be have never liked Robin Hood figures. The interesting part is that these Robin Hood figures, to be successful, will be fighting alongside the governments who quite frankly consider them to be criminal or a nuisance at the very least. Don’t get me wrong here the “crimes” committed by members of Anonymous are generally very low level stuff, and this is not really Anonymous doing it anyway, it is free-thinking individuals who associate with the causes Anonymous take on.
The point however remains that the two forces will be working together: almost all the world’s governments are united in the cause of destroying ISIS on the ground, of actually going out and shooting people, something which Anonymous of course don’t do; Anonymous however will be working to disrupt and destroy ISIS powers of communication, rhetoric and therefore recruitment, governments have IT capabilities too but evidentially no-where near the abilities of Anonymous. These two forces working together towards a shared goal, while still independent of each other, is probably our best chance of defeating this enemy which comes from our midst.
The most democratic and non-lethal black ops ever to be carried out.
I sympathise incidentally with muslims who are frankly pissed off with what the west has done in and to their countries in the name of democracy, I really do, but where this took a turn was when groups like ISIS but not limited to ISIS started to use sheer barbarism to evoke a reaction.
Well, you have a reaction now!
Is it however the reaction the mainstream press is touting? For those out there, I suspect many who would never go in and read anything on Pastbin let’s hear what @Anonpress has to say:
“#OpISIS & Us
It’s always strange seeing Anonymous operations in the mainstream media, especially with the immediacy and furor as we’ve seen with #OpISIS & #OpParis. Speaking honestly I find it a little stupid and often cheap journalism, there’s no centralized mouthpiece for Anonymous and while bold headlines read that “Anonymous is now at war with ISIS”, a large number of us have been for awhile. Where was the same coverage then? It’s just an easy report for people that understand nothing about Anonymous to make. Clicks are $ after all.
We, @Anonpress, neither created, shared nor ascribed to the video that was made. That said, we do support #OpISIS but it isn’t our operation and is one that we feel runs the risk of showboating more than helping. The media didn’t help in that respect, and it shouldn’t be a criticism leveled at the Anons working to achieve good things. Most of whom are doing so without publication, so don’t assume that the vocal elements of our group are the only activity and the only representation of our efforts.
We aren’t actively involved with the more intricate and aggressive sides of the operation. We work with information and data, and always have done. So in some areas we naturally align with the operation and thus will take a part in, and comment on, elements of it.
When it comes to #OpISIS this is primarily through three areas:
– Recruitment –
We target areas of influence, particularly toward the young and impressionable, and attempt to shut them down at the source. This is to stop the glamorization of attacks and ISIS’ actions to young people around the world. These are people who are good at coercing and influencing others to do their own bidding. One of the stark issues facing the West is people leaving their respective country to join ISIS and commit atrocities, and it is these initial lines of manipulation we aim to sever.
– Location –
Members and supporters of ISIS aren’t the most technologically aware. They do leave location data in photographs, they don’t cover their tracks and they sometimes tweet with location services on. I don’t think it needs detailing why uncovering geographical information on these people is beneficial, especially when passed to the relevant authorities.
– Information –
Alongside regular communications are documents and other information that can be useful not only in understanding how ISIS operates and plans their attacks, but also the nature of them and their exit-strategies as well. We don’t expect to be able to stop attacks like those seen in Paris, but the information we can offer is of use to people who can.
So that’s where we come in, and we won’t show off numbers and stats, details and the like when we do act. We’d rather give the information to those who find it useful. Especially as often information can be false, misinterpreted or lacking context (you need only look toward the recent KKK mess). We will not risk lives for a few retweets, or to combat the claims that we ‘do nothing’. We are unwavering in that respect.
Do we think we can ‘crush ISIS’? No, and I don’t know how we could. I don’t know what the ultimate solution is to power vacuums and their fulfillment in the Middle East. I think we can make a difference, I think even the smallest Anon out there reporting twitter accounts of suspected members can help. We’re not going to post videos making grand claims, we’re not going to sit there and tell people to ‘back off’ while we handle it. That is naive, and a childish way to view problems of the world.
We can help though, and that is what we must do.
We love people, we love you. We love Diesel, we love Lebanon, we love Paris.
We stand for you, and right now this means doing what we can against Daesh.
We’ll do it with or without you, as we always have, but we appreciate the support we get.
Stay safe people. I hope that clarifies our position on and in #OpISIS.”