Friday, June 28, 2013

 

Hacking websites in the name of Islam

A group called AnonGhost hacks websites and servers around the globe that it views as hostile to strict Islamic law.

AnonGhost 

DAKAR — In Nouakchott, a dusty city wedged between the Atlantic ocean and western dunes of the Sahara, a young hip-hop fan coordinates a diverse group of hackers targeting websites worldwide in the name of Islam.

Logging on to his computer, he greets his Facebook followers with a "good morning all" in English before posting links to 746 websites they have hacked in the last 48 hours along with his digital calling card: a half-skull, half-cyborg Guy Fawkes mask.

He calls himself Mauritania Attacker, after the remote Islamic republic in west Africa from which he leads a youthful group scattered across the Maghreb, southeast Asia and the West.

Anonghost Team
AnonGhost 
Mauritania Attacker says the hacking collective which he founded, AnonGhost(facebook), is fighting for Islam using peaceful means.

"We're not extremists," he said, via a Facebook account which a cyber security expert identified as his. "AnonGhost is a team that hacks for a cause. We defend the dignity of Muslims."


He represents a new generation of Western-style Islamists who promote religious conservatism and traditional values, and oppose those they see as backing Zionism and Western hegemony.

In April, AnonGhost launched a cyber attack dubbed OpIsrael that disrupted access to several Israeli government websites, attracting the attention of security experts worldwide.

"AnonGhost is considered one of the most active groups of hacktivists of the first quarter of 2013," said Pierluigi Paganini, security analyst and editor of Cyber Defense magazine.


An online archive of hacked Web sites, Hack DB, lists more than 10,400 domains AnonGhost defaced in the past seven months.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY, ANCIENT MISSION

Mauritanian Attacker aims to promote "correct Islam" by striking at servers hosted by countries they see as hostile to sharia law. "There is no Islam without sharia," he said.

Mauritania is renowned for its strict Islamic law. The sale of alcohol is forbidden and it is one of only a handful of states where homosexuality and atheism are punished by death.

The quality of Mauritania's religious scholars and Koranic schools, or madrassas, attract students from around the world. Mauritanians have risen to prominent positions in regional jihadist groups, including al Qaeda's north African branch AQIM.

As hackers from the region organize into groups, the Maghreb is emerging as a haven for hacktivism as it lacks the laws and means to prosecute cyber criminals, Herberger said.

"There's a great degree of anonymity and there's a great degree of implied impunity," he said.

Hacking is a way for young people to express religious and political views without being censored, says Aaron Zelin, fellow at the Washington Institute.

JURY OUT ON GROUP'S REACH

Most of AnonGhost's campaigns have simply defaced websites, ranging from kosher dieting sites to American weapon aficionado blogs, with messages about Islam and anti-Zionism.

It has attacked servers, often hosting small business websites, located in the United States, Brazil, France, Israel and Germany among others.

Mauritania Attacker and the AnonGhost crew say these countries have "betrayed Muslims" by supporting Israel and by participating in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"We are the new generation of Muslims and we are not stupid," read a message posted on the Web site of a party supply business in Italy. "We represent Islam. We fight together. We stand together. We die together."


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