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Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad

 
antilib
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02/27/2007 05:20 PM
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Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad
By: E. Alshech
[link to www.memri.org]

Alongside military jihad, which has been gaining momentum and extracting an ever growing price from many countries around the globe, Islamists have been developing a new form of warfare, termed "electronic jihad," which is waged on the Internet. This new form of jihad was launched in recent years and is still in its early stages of development. However, as this paper will show, Islamists are fully aware of its destructive potential, and persistently strive to realize this potential.

Electronic jihad is a phenomenon whereby mujahideen use the Internet to wage economic and ideological warfare against their enemies. Unlike other hackers, those engaged in electronic jihad are united by a common strategy and ideology which are still in a process of formation. This paper aims to present the phenomenon of electronic jihad and to characterize some of its more recent developments. It lays out the basic ideology and motivations of its perpetrators, describes, as far as possible, its various operational strategies, and assesses the short- and long-term dangers posed by this relatively new phenomenon. The paper focuses on electronic jihad waged by organized Islamist groups that mobilize large numbers of hackers around the world to attack servers and websites owned by those whom they regard as their enemies.


Organized Electronic Jihad

In the past few years Islamist websites have provided ample evidence that Islamist hackers do not operate as isolated individuals, but carry out coordinated attacks against websites belonging to those whom they regard as their enemies. [1] As evident from numerous postings on the Islamist websites, many of these coordinated attacks are organized by groups devoted to electronic jihad. Six prominent groups of this sort have emerged on the Internet over the past few years: [2] Hackboy, [3] Ansar Al-Jihad Lil-Jihad Al-Electroni, [4] Munazamat Fursan Al-Jihad Al-Electroni, [5] Majmu'at Al-Jihad Al-Electroni, [6] Majma' Al-Haker Al-Muslim, and Inhiyar Al-Dolar. [7] All these groups, with the exception of Munazamat Fursan Al-Jihad and Inhiyar al-Dolar, have websites of their own through which they recruit volunteers to take part in electronic attacks, [8] maintain contacts with others who engage in electronic jihad, coordinate their attacks, and enable their members to chat with one another anonymously. The Majmu'at Al-Jihad Al-Electroni website, for example, includes the following sections: A document explaining the nature of electronic jihad, a section devoted to electronic jihad strategy, a technical section on software used for electronic attacks, a section describing previous attacks and their results, and various appeals to Muslims, mujahideen, and hackers worldwide.
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antilib (OP)

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02/27/2007 05:22 PM
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Re: Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad
[link to www.memri.org]

A more recent indication of the increasingly organized nature of electronic jihad is an initiative launched January 3, 2007 on Islamist websites: mujahideen operating on the Internet (and in the media in general) were invited to sign a special pact called "Hilf Al-Muhajirin" ("Pact of the Immigrants"). [9] In it, they agree "to stand united under the banner of the Muhajirun Brigades in order to promote [cyber-warfare]," and "to pledge allegiance to the leader [of the Muhajirun Brigades]." They vow to "obey [the leader] in [all tasks], pleasant or unpleasant, not to contest [his] leadership, to exert every conceivable effort in [waging] media jihad… [and to persist] in attacking those websites which do harm to Islam and to the Muslims…" [10] This initiative clearly indicates that the Islamist hackers no longer regard themselves as loosely connected individual activists, but as dedicated soldiers who are bound by a pact and committed to a joint ideological mission.


The Ideology and Ethical Boundaries of Electronic Jihad

Mission statements posted on the websites of electronic jihad groups reveal that just like the mujahideen on the military front, the mujahideen operating on the Internet are motivated by profound ideological conviction. They despise hackers who "engage in purposeless and meaningless sabotage" [11] or are motivated by desire for publicity or by any other worldly objective. They perceive themselves as jihad-fighters who assist Islam and promote tawhid(Monotheism) via the Internet. [12] More importantly, they view cyberspace as a virtual battlefield in which the mujahideen can effectively defeat the West.

That the mujahideen operating in cyberspace are motivated by ideology, in contrast to many hackers, is illustrated by the following example. Recently, a participant on an Islamist forum posted instructions for breaking into a UK-based commercial website and stealing the customers' credit card information in order to inflict financial damage on the "unbelievers" (i.e. on the non-Muslims customers and retailers). His initiative sparked a fierce debate among the forum participants, the dominant opinion being that this initiative falls outside the boundaries of legitimate cyber-jihad. One forum participant wrote: "Oh brother, we do not steal… We attack racist, American and Shi'ite [websites] and all corrupt websites." Another participant reminded the forum members that stealing from unbelievers is forbidden. [13]


Image from Muslim Hackerz website

[link to www.memri.org]

[link to www.memri.org]
In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
______________________
"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home"
antilib (OP)

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02/27/2007 05:32 PM
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Re: Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad
Actual Attacks and Their Effects

Reports on Islamist websites indicate that most of the hacking operations carried out by mujahideen have been aimed at three types of websites:

a) Ideological websites which promote beliefs, doctrines and ideologies which the mujahideen perceive as incompatible with Sunni Islam, such as Christianity, Shi'ism and Zionism. [17]

b) Websites which the mujahideen perceive as defamatory or harmful to Islam. Many of these are private blogs, news blogs and non-Islamic forums (e.g., [link to answering-islam.org.uk).] [18]

c) Websites which promote behavior that is contrary to the mujahideen's religious worldview (e.g., [link to www.nscrush.org] a website associated with a girls' sports team).

As for websites associated with governments, defense systems, and Western economic interests - Islamist websites present little or no evidence that mujahideen have actually attacked them. There is, however, sufficient evidence to suggest that such sensitive targets continue to be of intense interest to the mujahideen. For example, an Islamist forum recently conducted a survey among its participants regarding the targets they would like to attack. Among the targets suggested were Western financial websites and websites associated with the FBI and CIA. [19] Moreover, in September 2006, an Islamic website posted a long list of IP addresses allegedly associated with key governmental defense institutions in the West, including "the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory," "the Army Armament Research Development and Engineering Center," "the Navy Computers and Telecommunications Station," "the National Space Development Agency of Japan," and others. [20] The title of the message indicates that the list is meant for use in electronic attacks.

Another message, posted on an Islamist website on December 5, 2006, stated that Islamist hackers had cancelled a planned attack, nicknamed "The Electronic Guantanamo Raid," against American banks. The posting explained that the attack had been cancelled because the banks had been warned about the attack by American media and government agencies. It stated further that the panic in the media shows how important it is "to focus on attacking sensitive economic American websites [instead of] other [websites, like those that offend Islam]…" The writer added: "If [we] attack websites associated with the stock[market] and with banks, disabling them for a few days or even for a few hours, it will cause millions of dollars' worth of damage… I [therefore] call upon all members [of this forum] to focus on these websites and to urge all Muslims who are able to participate in this [type of] Islamic Intifada to attack websites associated with the American stock[market] and banks…" [21]
In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
______________________
"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home"

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