#OpParis Pits Anonymous Against ISIS—and Terrorist Twitter Accounts Are Being Taken Down as a Result
In a matter of days, the infamous hacktivist collective claims to have identified thousands of social media accounts connected to the Islamic State.
Image via YouTube screen capture
In the nebulous world of cyber warfare, it’s difficult to ascertain just about anything with absolute certainty. But, if they are to be believed, members of the hacker collective Anonymous have managed to identify—and help remove—more than 5,000 social media accounts associated with the terrorist group ISIS. The news comes just days after Anonymous members announced plans to attack the Islamic State online, the result of ISIS having claimed responsibility for the deadly violence last Friday that left over 130 dead in Paris.
In the immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks, a video appeared on an Italian, Anonymous-affiliated YouTube channel, announcing the launch of #OpParis, a large-scale assault on the Islamic State’s online presence.
“To defend our values and our freedom,” intones a masked spokesperson for the group, “we're tracking down members of the terrorist group responsible these attacks, we will not give up, we will not forgive, and we'll do all that is necessary to end their actions.”
In an interview with FreakOutNation.com (linked to by the official #OpParis Twitter account and, accordingly, as reasonably verifiable as these types of things can be) the head of #OpParis—using the mononym “X”—claims the initiative has already identified and helped remove over 5,000 ISIS-affiliated accounts across social media—a claim repeated by the #OpParis account early Tuesday morning.
Image via Twitter user @opparisofficial
If the stoppage of thousands of Twitter accounts seems fairly inconsequential given ISIS’s very real, very deadly use of force in the non-digital world, consider the degree to which the terrorist group’s meteoric rise has been buttressed by a surprisingly savvy social media presence. It’s estimated that last year there were around 45,000 ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts—both real and automated bots—with social media being one of the major recruiting channels for the group. With that in mind, Anonymous’ attack on the Islamic State’s internet presence is more than simple cyber bickering—it’s a legitimate swipe at an important resource.
It’s a threat some members of ISIS seem to be taking seriously. Using the instant messaging app Telegram, an account believed to be associated with the terrorist group warned members of Anonymous’ attack, offering tips on how to avoid being hacked, and calling Anonymous hackers “idiots,” reports Business Insider.
While this appears to be the largest confrontation between Anonymous and ISIS, it’s not the first. Anonymous-affiliated hacker groups first launched #OpISIS in 2014 to combat the terrorist group online. That effort is reportedly responsible for disrupting a planned attack on a Tunisian marketplace this past summer.