Tunisian members of an online group of hacktivists known as “Anonymous” received attention Friday when Al Jazeera English profiled their efforts to attack Egyptian government Web sites.
“Anonymous” first attacked Tunisian government websites after the country blocked access to secrets outlet WikiLeaks. The group had also targeted PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and other businesses that appeared to have an anti-WikiLeaks agenda.
“We did initially take an interest in Tunisia because of WikiLeaks,” a member told Al Jazeera. “But as more Tunisians have joined they care more about the general internet censorship there, so that’s what it has become.”
At least eight Tunisian government Web sites were brought down as part of the attacks.
After the successful revolution in Tunisia, members of the organization turned their attentions to Egypt, which had restricted access to social media websites Twitter and Facebook. The “Anonymous” Facebook page “Operation Egypt” issued a dire warning to the Egyptian government.
“To the Egyptian Govt : Anonymous challenges all those who are involved in censorship,” the group wrote. “Anonymous wants you to offer free access to uncensored media in your entire country. When you ignore this message, not only will we attack your govt websites, we will also make sure that the international media see the horrid reality you impose on your people!”
A graphic on the Facebook page gave instructions for participating in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
One Tunisian member of “Anonymous,” who called himself Anon.M, told Al Jazeera that he was tasked with breaking into Egyptian government Web sites.
“I take down security barriers of Web sites so that people can enter and occupy the site and post their message to the Egyptian government,” he said. “So they know this Web site is ours now, and they can’t block freedom of expression.”
The New York Times reported Wednesday that about 500 members of the group worked together to successfully paralyze the Egyptian government’s sites.
Last week, the FBI announced mass raids in connection with “Anonymous” activities. In a similar effort in Britain, arrests were made and equipment was seized.
“These arrests aren’t going to have any effect,” Gregg Housh, a member of the group, told the Times.
The official “Anonymous” communications Twitter account declared their next target to be Italy.
This video is from Al Jazeera, broadcast Feb. 4, 2011.