It was in 2008, during their inappropriately celebrated “War on Scientology,” that the hacker collective known as Anonymous first began using the phrase “We are Legion” in their communiques. Not being a Christian myself, it is usually hard for me to get too worked up over this sort of ham-fisted, pop-culture pseudo-Satanism. In most cases it is window dressing designed to distract people from the vapid and lazy “thought” that too many young people think is provocative. With Anonymous however, it’s different. Anonymous, often heralded as heroic defenders of freedom and transparency, have a history of activities that go beyond the realms of subversive or even revolutionary and are quite simply evil.
I first became aware of Anonymous in 2008 when I read about a case in which the group posted the address and phone number of a middle-aged couple they mistakenly believed were “pro-Scientology” hackers. The couple was inundated with death threats and feared for their lives:
John Lawson, who lives in Stockton, California with his wife Julia, began receiving threatening phone calls around 2 a.m. Saturday morning. He didn’t know why until THREAT LEVEL explained that a hacking group calling itself the g00ns (goons spelled with zeros, not goons with the letter o) posted his home address, phone number and cell numbers, as well as Julia’s Social Security number, online. The obscene and threatening calls have continued through Tuesday, according to Lawson.
The calls are just one small offshoot of an ongoing, larger attack on the Church of Scientology by a ragtag group of internet troublemakers who call themselves Anonymous. The group says it is targeting Scientology in part for its use of litigation to suppress unflattering documents on the internet.
Over the weekend, the g00ns thought they had caught a hacker who had busted into a server being used to help coordinate the online attacks and real world protests against Scientology. But Lawson says the callers have the wrong guy.
“I don’t even really know how to use a computer,” Lawson said.
His phone just keeps ringing, Lawson said, and when he answers, callers spout vulgarities and threats and then hang up. On Monday, he got a call that seemed to originate from the Virgin Islands. The caller threatened to kill him.
“They have got the wife really scared because they have my address,” Lawson said. “I think I am going to buy me a gun today just in case.”
But that was mild compared to their next stunt.
The nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation, which runs the forum, briefly closed the site Sunday to purge the offending messages and to boost security.
“We are seeing people affected,” says Ken Lowenberg, senior director of web and print publishing at the Epilepsy Foundation. “It’s fortunately only a handful. It’s possible that people are just not reporting yet — people affected by it may not be coming back to the forum so fast.”
The incident, possibly the first computer attack to inflict physical harm on the victims, began Saturday, March 22, when attackers used a script to post hundreds of messages embedded with flashing animated gifs.
Circumstantial evidence suggests the attack was the work of members of Anonymous, an informal collective of griefers best known for their recent war on the Church of Scientology. The first flurry of posts on the epilepsy forum referenced the site EBaumsWorld, which is much hated by Anonymous. And forum members claim they found a message board thread — since deleted — planning the attack at 7chan.org, a group stronghold.
Yet after these and similar incidents, Anonymous is still viewed as a group of freedom-loving folk heroes fighting for justice on the web. Both libertarians and leftists laud Anonymous, no matter the depths to which the hackers sink.
Recently they announced that they will “erase Wall St. from the Internet” on October 10th in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It isn’t clear what they actually intend to do. Attacking the web pages of NYSE will barely register to most traders that day so that doesn’t seem chaotic or destructive enough for the Anonymous collective. Since they promise that this will be a day that will “never, ever be forgotten,” some fear they have found a way to actually interfere with trading and could thus force the markets in this country to close indefinitely, grinding our economy to a halt.
But this speculation on their next attack has caused people to overlook another Anonymous threat issued just days before. In a video called “The Bankers are the Problem,” Anonymous spends a little over eight minutes making the case for violence against bankers and the mass murder of Wall Street workers:
In the video you’ll notice that the speaker disparages the idea of freedom, which should surprise some of Anonymous’ more rabid fans. But what I found most chilling were the frequent allusions to homicidal mob violence being divinely inspired.
What divinity inspires mobs to lynch unarmed people?
Anonymous claims to be fighting for some sort of larger cause. But what is it? Advocating murder will solve what problem? And what will happen if Anonymous follows through on its threat and does give us a day we’ll “never, ever forget” on October 10th? If Anonymous gets rid of those pesky bankers and financial services, what will happen to the thousands of trucks that bring food and water into New York City? What will the allies of Anonymous do if the group manages to collapse our economy? Forage for food in lower Manhattan?
Anonymous helped organize the Wall Street Occupation movement, encouraged hundreds of people who can barely care for themselves now to congregate in New York, and now wants to create a catastrophe there that members hope will cause untold chaos. This is not so much a protest as a plot to murder those people. The aftermath of a successful takedown of the markets by Anonymous will not look like the glorious revolution these protesters are imagining; it will be akin to a zombie apocalypse as panicked city dwellers find the intricate web of services that keep them alive disappearing with the malicious keystrokes of people watching and laughing from hundreds of miles away.
What exactly is the point of trying to cause this sort of chaos while their supposed allies — the people who will be blamed by the public — are there? Anonymous could have launched this attack before or after Occupy Wall Street. But then there would be less possibility of people getting hurt.
Anonymous recently took down Mexican government sites because they wanted to “make the government tremble.” Anonymous had little to say about Mexican cartels murdering bloggers. Anonymous is planning attacks on Facebook because of the website’s privacy polices, but as of yet Anonymous hasn’t attacked Backpage.com, a hotbed of human sex trafficking. There’s a pattern to the activities of Anonymous if people are willing to see it.
Anonymous is Legion, perhaps not in the literal sense, but in a cosmic sense. These individuals coalesced into one entity which has no physical form and exists only to inflict pain on others. No matter how lofty they claim their goals are, the reality is that everything they do is designed to harm others and they are no longer content with “virtual” harm. They are calling for violence, they are planning terror attacks. They are committed to doing evil in its most basic sense.