ISIS flags being waved in Kashmir in 2014 (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • A hacktivist group, Ghost Squad Hackers, has made public the identities of some hackers affiliated to ISIS’ cyber army.

    In collaboration with other hackers’ groups like Anonymous, they previously took down the Twitter and Facebook accounts of ISIS sympathisers as part of Op ISIS.

    The group’s founder has vowed to target every hacker inside of ISIS, especially the “United Cyber Caliphate’ which is a conjunction of hackers working for ISIS.

By Aveek Sen

On the 7 and 8 July, Ghost Squad Hackers (GSH), a hacktivist (hacker activist) group, made public the identities of some hackers affiliated to ISIS’ cyber army called United Cyber Caliphate, including leader Mauritania Attacker:

Before this, GSH had gone against a Jordan-based bank in May 2016, as it laundered money for ISIS (Part of Operation Icarus against global banking system; GSH are anarchists ideologically).

They were also part of Op ISIS against its sympathisers on Twitter and Facebook. In collaboration with other hackers’ groups like Anonymous, they took down the Twitter and Facebook accounts of ISIS sympathisers as part of the operation.

The method used to expose ISIS hackers is called doxing, which means, finding out the true identity of someone online. That can be done through various techniques like finding links between anything revealed by their anonymous identity that could lead to their real identity being found out, like hacking into their devices or accounts.

Mauritania Attacker has been revealed to be Moulaye Ahmed Ould Ahmed Semane of Nouakchot, the capital city of Mauritania, and his phone number (+22234656555) has also been disclosed. It might cut ISIS off from all sources of propaganda, as international press carries reports based on information from ISIS online channels.

While one of the United Cyber Caliphate member’s name is Harith Al-muhajir, the other calls himself Ansari Levantine or Romato, and as per his Facebook account, he is from the Philippines. The leaked pics of Romato include one where he’s with his infant daughter, who’s not in a hijab. The other one shows his daughter wearing a hijab with a scarf with the Shahada written on it, wrapped around her forehead. The Shahada, one of the Kalmas that are considered holy verses by Muslims, is used by ISIS on its flag. This could suggest that there has been a recent radicalisation of Romato.

It is interesting to note that ISIS hardly has any presence outside of Syria and Iraq. It is using its online propaganda to create fear. Just like the recent Bangladesh attacks were by the JMB, and ISIS only took credit for it and did online propaganda, none of the networks outside of Iraq and Syria are of ISIS or IS. The media foolishly took ISIS online propaganda outlet Amaq’s claims on Dhaka attack at face value and created panic. ISIS had similarly released a hit list that included names of 285 Indians, randomly picked up from social media.

As ISIS loses ground in Syria and Iraq, it will try to move from ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) to IS (Islamic State). But since it doesn’t have any network outside of Iraq and Syria, it will do a quid pro quo deal with Jihadi terrorist groups online. Swear allegiance to IS and IS does free online propaganda.

The online propaganda is picked up by gullible media, and the objective of the terrorists--to create terror--is fulfilled. As such, it is important to monitor ISIS in the cyber world, and responsible media should refrain from giving them free publicity.

The GSH founder (S1ege) says:

We all know ISIS is not true Islam its fake and we are going to target every hacker inside of ISIS especially the “United Cyber Caliphate’ which is a conjunction of hackers hacking for ISIS. They are trying to create a quote on quote (sic) ‘Cyber Caliphate’ we intent (sic) to prevent that and stop them in their tracks thus we named the operation #OpReverseCaliphate. Islam is not ISIS, ISIS is a gang attacking on Ramadan and they use drugs, rape women and kill innocent children. Their victims are of all religions, in fact most of their victims are Muslims in Syria & Iraq!

GSH split from the AnonGhost hackers group when Mauritania Attacker and a few others supported ISIS. Thus, two groups were formed: Ghost Caliphate that joined forces with ISIS, and Ghost Squad Hackers that opposed it.

GSH and, prior to it, AnonGhost, were considered pro-Muslim hacking groups due to their support to Palestine. On being asked, S1ege says, “Although we are Muslims, Christians and Atheist, we have no one religion, and we accept all. But (its true that) majority of us are Muslims, and we believe in true Islam, not this fake ISIS shit.

The war between good and bad Muslims seems to be culminating in the cyber world with indications of victory for the good ones. One hopes to see the war reach the same conclusion soon in Iraq and Syria as well.

The author is an electronics engineer and journalist covering cyber security, Afghanistan and parts of the Middle East. He tweets at @aveeksen

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