Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Begins Leaking Identities of Alleged KKK Members, Including Major U.S. Politicians (UPDATE)

by Rafi Schwartz

November 2, 2015
Image via (cc) Flickr user Arete13

Activist hacker collective Anonymous has launched a major attack on alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan, publishing their names and contact information as part of an ongoing initiative started by the group in the wake of last year’s marches in Ferguson, Missouri. At the time, a Missouri chapter of the KKK had threatened violence against those protesting the shooting death of African American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. In response, members of Anonymous reportedly commandeered a major KKK Twitter account, and began sharing personal data of alleged Klansmen. 

Now, roughly a year later, Anonymous has upped the ante in the feud, announcing last week plans to roll out names and information for a large number of KKK members in the coming days. They wrote in a press release: 

The aim of this operation is digital. Another cyber war trist, nothing more. We are not violent. We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan across the Unites States.

Members of the group also uploaded a video press release, detailing their plans for the first week of November:

Thus far names and contact information for several dozen alleged Klansmen have been posted to the text-sharing website Pastebin. Reportedly included in the initial batch of accused Klan members are the mayors of Knoxville, Tennessee; Norfolk, Virginia; and Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as U.S. senators including Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas. 

Image via (cc) Flickr user boze3000

As is probably to be expected, the leaked names are receiving intense scrutiny, with many pointing to several suspicious entries as proof positive that the unverified list is, at the very least, highly suspect. Included amongst the alleged Klansmen, for example, is Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, who came out publicly as gay in 2005. Senator Tillis, meanwhile, is a Catholic, one of the groups traditionally targeted by the Klan. In a statement to WLEX-TV, Gray said simply: “This allegation is false, insulting, and ridiculous. I have never had any relationship of any kind with the KKK. I am opposed to everything it stands for. I have no idea where this information came from, but wherever it came from, it is wrong.”

Even Anonymous seems at odds with itself over whether the information released today is accurate. An affiliated Twitter account created last year as part of the group’s initial conflict with the Klan has publicly distanced itself from this particular leak, tweeting

That faction of Anonymous has pledged to release their own list of alleged Klan members on November 5.

[via mic]

UPDATE (11/2/15 – 6:45 PM): As is probably to be expected in cases concerning, well, “anonymous” internet collectives, things are not always as they might first appear to be. As this story has progressed throughout the day, further details have emerged regarding responsibility for this round of leaks. Among the lists of alleged Klan members published today (there were, in fact, several) was one which named a number of notable political figures. That particular list has subsequently been traced back to an unaffiliated hacker by Gizmodo’s Kate Knibbs, and does not come from members of Anonymous, itself. While that hacker stands by his allegations to Knibbs, no evidence has yet to be produced that corroborates the connection between those he names and the Klan. Similarly, as was noted in the original post, the main Anonymous wing allegedly behind this particular initiative has publically disavowed any involvement with today’s leaks. 

We apologize for the confusion. 

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Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Begins Leaking Identities of Alleged KKK Members, Including Major U.S. Politicians (UPDATE)