The websites of at least 40 towns and cities in northern Navarre, Spain, were hacked yesterday and replaced with pro-Islamic State messages and a promise that Allah “would destroy all with wrath.”
Spanish newspaper ABC reports that, among the towns affected are Sangüesa, Zizur, Barañain, Villava, Tafalla, and Valle de Egües, and the websites of all the regional municipalities were replace with the same message. In Arabic, the message read: “The Islamic State exists and will persevere, Allah willing, and will destroy all with wrath.” In English, a message below read “I love ISIS,” followed by “Je suis Mohamed” and “Je suis ISIS.” The hackers identified themselves as “Team System Dz” and “Hackers Algeria.” Some of the pages also read, in English, “Fuck israel & France & France.”
ABC adds that officials have announced that they have traced the attack back to France– which would explain the Algeria hacker group name– and that it has affected “more than 20,000 servers.” It is not exactly known why the hackers targeted Navarre specifically, though Spain itself has long been the target of Islamists, both for its support of the Iraq war in the past decade and for the historical significance of Spain– the former empire of al-Andalus— to the Muslim world. Official Islamic State propaganda has targeted Spain as a land the jihadists vow to “liberate” from Christian Europe.
The attacks do not appear to be official Islamic State operations, however, but the work of supporters in Europe. They are similar in aesthetic and scope to attacks in the United States by a group calling itself the “Cyber Caliphate,” which replaced the Twitter accounts of local news outlets in Maryland and New Mexico with pro-Islamic State propaganda. Cyber Caliphate also hacked the Twitter account of the United States Central Command (@CENTCOM), publishing unclassified information about individual members of the military. The FBI has announced it is investigating the hackings, though little has been disclosed about the identity of the hackers.
Islamist hackings appear to be on the rise. Last week, two websites owned by the University of Rio de Janeiro also experienced a similar attack, though the message replacing those websites did not promote the Islamic State or any terrorist group in particular. Instead, a statement reading “I protest against disrespect of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammed,” with the ominous message “If Islam promoted terrorism, you wouldn’t be alive right now.” Brazilian authorities have not yet found the perpetrators of that attack, either.