In the realm of social media wars, some are more fraught than others. There are the inevitable, tiresome third-glass-of-Malbec Friday night spats, and then there are the ones where lives, and possibly immortal souls, are at stake.
Anonymous is expert in both.
For months now, Anonymous has been doing what it does best. Not hacking. Not DDoSing to take websites offline. Nope. What they do best is hunt people, find those people, and take them out, whatever it takes. And now they are after ISIS.
ISIS has done much of their recruiting work through social media channels: Facebook and Twitter, as well as more esoteric platforms. They use social media, particularly Twitter, as a propaganda tool and on this front they are considerably in advance of NATO and other Western forces, who tend to view such use as more of a risk than an advantage. And it is risky; metadata has revealed more than one fighter’s location, and the Russians will not soon forget the soldier who made headlines for the trail of selfies he left all over the Ukraine, proving that Moscow’s claims of having retreated were untrue. By bringing the war to social media, ISIS stepped right into Anonymous’ home turf. And they’re not likely to forget that any time soon.
Sometimes all it takes to change the world is sitting at home, typing, and this is what has led to many in the hacker community heaping scorn on the Anonymous movement, calling them “skids,” ie people who can’t write their own code but just copy and paste tools “real” hackers have written, or “slacktivists,” confusing Facebook Likes for actual change. But as ISIS, the most feared organization in the world (as far as the US State Department and mainstream media are concerned) has learned, sometimes all it takes to wipe you out is for your enemy to press a button enough times.
Here, then, is exactly how you push that button.
AnonOps, one of the central nodes in the Anonymous hive, has released specific instructions on how to cut off ISIS lines of communication and recruitment on Twitter. In several preceding rounds of action, Anonymous has suspended over 10,000 ISIS Twitter and Facebook accounts, used not for internal communications, but for outreach and recruitment, to talk to fired-up loners and others ripe for the picking, right where they live: on social media.
1- Locating an Islamic State Twitter account
If you are new to this locating an Islamic State militant account can prove to be difficult however after locating your first account you will be able to find thousands more following these steps. ISIS militants and their supporters feed off of attention and publicity commonly using Twitter hash tags such as #IslamicState among others. Run a Twitter search using this hash tag and you will find your first Islamic State account. If you are still having difficulty locating an account Twitter search #CtrlSec or #OpISIS
2- I have located my first Islamic State Twitter account
Now that you have located your first Islamic State Twitter account you will now be able to collect many more and form a vast network of information. With the account you initially located review all of their following and followers collecting Twitter account names as you move forward. When you are collecting account names you must retrieve their Twitter ID by visiting http://gettwitterid.com/ If you do not collect the account ID they can easily change their account name to evade you as they commonly do once detected. As you are collecting Islamic State Twitter accounts check each bio and their tweets for website URLS and log the information. With the data you have compiled visit http://pastebin.com and publish a paste of your findings.
3- I have a list of Islamic State Twitter accounts and URLS.
Now that you have collected this information you can take action against them by reporting them to Anonymous, authorities and Twitter. If your paste link contains Islamic State Twitter accounts you can tweet your paste making sure to use the hash tag #CtrlSec so the corresponding operatives can collect your link and terminate the accounts. If your paste link contains Islamic State website URLS tweet them using the hash tag #GhostSec so their operatives can collect intelligence and disable the website. If you have concerns for your personal safety you can alternatively email us with your information at firstname.lastname@example.org using a anonymous mailer service such as http://anonymousemail.me
Your contributions to our cause are immensely appreciated and this could never be achieved without your unyielding support.
We are the ghosts that you have created.
Hungry ghosts, as Dr. Gabor Mate calls them; the spirits of addiction. And once you’re addicted to winning the internet, you seemingly cannot stop, no matter how high the stakes.
OpISIS is a multi-faceted operation which has ebbed and flowed over time, although its most public triumphs have come in that most public of arenas, social media. There are hacking, DDoS, and other components to it as well. It is one of the rare instances where the US Government does not appear to be exerting any force to oppose an Anonymous Operation, because with the current state of US government cyberwar capacity, leaving it to Anonymous allows them to allocate their still-limited resources more strategically than playing whack-a-mole with ISIS on Twitter and Facebook and pointing botnets at tangential sites.
As well, reporting an account for Terms of Service violations (advocating beheading is indeed against the Twitter ToS) is not an indictable offence, so even citizens concerned about lawbreaking can join in the operation without fear of retribution (as long as they stay out of Syria and Iraq).
Indeed, two days after the release of those instructions, AnonOps announced the release of 9200 ISIS-linked Twitter accounts.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, appears less than pleased at the success of OpISIS. When you’re at war and civilians keep picking off your enemies every time their heads pop over the trenches, it decreases your ability to track and infiltrate the opposite side. Then again, they aren’t that good at keeping the Cyber Caliphate out of their own accounts; perhaps they should just delegate this front to Anons.
It seems to have been the claim by the American “patriot hacker” @th3j35t3r that he was responsible for many takedowns in OpCharlieHebdo that prodded Anonymous into getting off the fence and into action. They do loathe the Jester, and would not stand by while he took credit for what members claim were Anonymous victories.
Because of Anonymous’ big tent nature, there are both fundamentalist Muslims and fundamentalist Christians within its ranks, which makes any operation against an international religious-identified group a more complicated matter than it would be in a smaller, more homogeneous group.
Of #OpIceISIS, we shall not speak, except to mention that it came from the apparently compromised account @TheAnonMessage, which has gained media attention but not support within the Hive for numerous cases of doxing the wrong person (as in #OpFerguson) and announcing spurious wars between Anonymous and Iggy Azalea and (most recently) Kanye West. That operation has not gained widespread support, and appears to have died out.
There are multiple subgroups within Anonymous participating in OpISIS. Redcult has recently come to the fore, with a number of verified tangodowns, while previously long-established crew AnonGhost had led the kill tally. AnonGhost is known for strongly pro-Palestinian sentiment and actions, and OpISIS has not been universally welcomed within the team. While there has been no schism per se within the group, AnonGhost has taken a back seat to Redcult in recent weeks in terms of proclaimed victories.
Other groups and un-aligned individuals in Anonymous are involved as well.
Redcult explains the nature of the operation in one of their pastebin documents:
Greetings citizens of the world, we are Anonymous,
Operation ISIS Continues:
First we need to clarify few a things.
We Are: Muslims, Christians, Jews…
We Are hackers, crackers, Hacktivist, phishers, agents, spies, or just the guy from next door.
We Are students, administrators, workers, clerks, unemployed, rich, poor, We are young, or old, gay or straight.
We wear smart clothes or rugs, we are hedonists, ascetics, joy riders or activists.
We come from all races, countries, religions, and ethnicity.
UNITED AS ONE, DIVIDED BY ZERO…
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…
You will be treated like a virus, And we are the cure…
We Own The Internet…
We are Anonymous, We are Legion, We do not forgive, We do not forget, Expect us.
As to who are the martyrs and who are the virgins in this Manichean worldview, well, the cheap jokes simply make themselves.
UPDATE: yup, this is moving quickly. New video has just been released.
and the accompanying Pastebin lists the FOURTEEN THOUSAND yes, 14150 social media accounts exposed by Redcult in the most recent roundup. Your move, Caliphate.