Anonymous Vows to Remove Syria's 'Evil Government' from the Internet

Anonymous Vows to Remove Syria's 'Evil Government' from the Internet

UPDATE- Anonymous Clarifies on Twitter:

Anonymous is attacking Assad due to the internet outage. Anonymous is not attacking Assad in support of the Free Syrian Army. #OpSyria

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As fighting in Syria between pro-government forces and opposition rebels escalated on Thursday in the country’s capital city of Damascus, access to its international airport was cut, suspending flights into and out of Syria.  By 10:30 AM Eastern time, Syria’s internet was disconnected from the outside world, leaving the country’s citizens in an information blackout. Thursday evening, the hacker collective Anonymous struck back, vowing to “remove the last vestiges of [Bashar al-Assad’s] evil government from the Internet.”

In a press release, Anonymous stated the following:

Anonymous will NOT allow this massive violation of the human rights of the free Syrian people go un-punished. We feel this is a desperate move by a dying regime, one that has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Beginning at 9:00 PM ET USA Anonymous will begin removing from the Internet all web assets belonging to the Assad regime that are NOT hosted in Syria. We will begin with the websites and servers belonging to ALL Syrian Embassies abroad, which we will begin systematically removing from the Internet tonight. Our first target will be the website of the Syrian Embassy of in China: syria.org.cn – we encourage the media to follow the Twitter account @OpSyriaIRC for announcements on take-downs, defacements, data dumps, E-Mail bombs and black fax attacks. By turning off the Internet in Syria, the butcher Assad has shown that the time has come for Anonymous to remove the last vestiges of his evil government from the Internet. Soon, his people will remove him from this world. Let the final battle for a free Syria begin….

In July, Abu Adnan, commander of the Salafis — one of two Free Army groups in the rebel stronghold of Zabadani, Syria — promised that the fighting would continue until the rebels reached Damascus.  “Everybody is pushing towards the capital. That is where this will end,” he said.

Thursday’s blockade of the airport in Damascus was a sign that the rebels’ promise may be reaching its peak.  The subsequent internet shutdown and reported interruption of mobile phone service were yet further indicators, as the action was swift and complete, as can be seen in this chart.

The Syrian government blamed terrorists for the outage, but activists have reported that similar outages have occurred prior to military operations carried out by the Syrian government.  While there have been partial outages in the past, this is the first time that one of such a comprehensive nature has occurred. This leads some in the country to fear that the government is preparing for a major offensive, according to an Associated Press report.

“I fear that cutting the Internet may be a prelude to a massacre in Damascus,” said Adib Shishakly, a Syrian opposition figure from Cairo, Egypt. “The regime feels it is being choked off by rebels who are closing in on the capital from its suburbs. It’s a desperate move; they are trying to sever communications between activists.”

While international support seems to be increasingly in favor of supporting and even arming the rebels, the Syrian people are not all in agreement that the rebels are any better for democracy than the Assad regime.  In a July interview with BBC News near Father Anton al-Houri, head of the Orthodox community in Zabadani, remarked:

“We Christians suffered from the same lack of freedom as everyone else. We suffered from the same corruption. Now, we are under the same shell fire.”

Christians especially face difficulties in a country that is largely Muslim.  In the same interview, another remarked:

“Eighty per cent of Syria is Muslim,” says Ali, a small but tough-looking man who had been a blacksmith.

“We won’t accept a non-Muslim to rule over us.”

In a conflict where determining the “good guys” from the “bad guys” is increasingly difficult, many worry that the landscape will become more challenging as external governments and other forces weigh in. That landscape apparently now includes Anonymous. Helping the Syrian people to navigate communication outages is one thing, but taking sides in a conflict where it’s not clear that either of those sides truly represents democracy is yet another altogether.  Certainly no one endorses a dictator, but there is concern from some that groups such as Anonymous may embolden rebels who may not necessarily have all of Syria’s citizens’ interests at heart either.  This tweet is a perfect example of such sentiment.

The full text of the Anonymous press release is below:

Greetings World –

Today, at precisely 10:30 AM ET all Internet traffic into and out of Syria ceased. Within a half hour of this sudden shut down, the PBX land-lines were degraded by 90% and Mobile connectivity was degraded by 75%. The nation of Syria has gone dark. And Anonymous knows all to [sic] well what happens in the dark places.

http://localleaks.me/plf/images/SyriaInternet.png

Anonymous has done an exhaustive analysis of the Internet shut-down in Syria and we have concluded that the Syrian regime has physically severed the fiber-optic and coaxial cables coming into Syria. Essentially, they have physically “pulled the plug out of the wall”. As we discovered in Egypt, where the dictator Mubarak did something similar – this is not damage that can be easily or quickly repaired.

Fortunately, Anonymous has been working with Syrian activists for well over a year in anticipation of this moment. We produced and disseminated the Syrian Care Package – http://bit.ly/Wxx0ev and there are emergency independent media centers already set up in every city of Syria. Activists and independent journalists in Syria will be able to utilize these media centers to get news and media out of Syria, and Anonymous will assist in propagating that media to the world. Anonymous will keep open the lines of telecommunication with the free Syrian people. We will be the voice of the voiceless in Syria.

“When your government shuts down the Internet, shut down your government.” ~~ Anonymous Egypt

Anonymous will NOT allow this massive violation of the human rights of the free Syrian people go un-punished. We feel this is a desperate move by a dying regime, one that has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Beginning at 9:00 PM ET USA Anonymous will begin removing from the Internet all web assets belonging to the Assad regime that are NOT hosted in Syria. We will begin with the websites and servers belonging to ALL Syrian Embassies abroad, which we will begin systematically removing from the Internet tonight. Our first target will be the website of the Syrian Embassy of in China: syria.org.cn – we encourage the media to follow the Twitter account @OpSyriaIRC for announcements on take-downs, defacements, data dumps, E-Mail bombs and black fax attacks. By turning off the Internet in Syria, the butcher Assad has shown that the time has come for Anonymous to remove the last vestiges of his evil government from the Internet. Soon, his people will remove him from this world. Let the final battle for a free Syria begin….

We Are Anonymous

We Are Legion

We Do Not Forgive

We Do Not Forget

Bashar Assad, your turn has come – EXPECT US

– Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) November 30, 2012

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