A loosely affiliated network of hackers around the world known as “Anonymous” took credit for shutting down the Egyptian regime’s websites in support of anti-government protestors. The group is also targeting other tyrants in the region.
Last week, the Egyptian security apparatus cut off Internet access and even cell-phone service across the country in response to protests that have rocked the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Many of the demonstrations were actually orchestrated using social-networking services like Facebook and Twitter.
In response, the group of hackers had been helping protestors circumvent the recently lifted web blackout. When service was restored, Anonymous began “Operation Egypt.” It went after the web portals of the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and even the “president’s” National Democratic Party site. And it succeeded. All of the regime’s targeted sites, including the cabinet’s, remained down on Thursday.
“Internet in Egypt is up. Why isn’t Mubarak’s site? Because we do not forgive, We do not forget,” the hacker group wrote in a message posted Wednesday on Twitter. “Egyptians, Hang in there, we are with you.”
In another message released five minutes prior, the group welcomed the nation back online and boasted of its success. “Welcome back to the Internet, Egypt. Well, except http://www.moiegypt.gov.eg – you stay down,” Anonymous wrote.
The group then called for the tyrant to step down. “http://www.moiegypt.gov.eg/ is down. http://www.ndp.org.eg/ is down. Mr. Mubarak, when will you follow?” it wondered, followed by a suggestion that the dictator was seeking a domestic war.
“We get it now. You want a full sized civil war to suit your ego,” Anonymous said. “It’s called ‘Scorched Earth’, Mr. Mubarak. Just step down, not so hard.” It warned that Mubarak would lose. “This was clear from the start.”
Thus far, Mubarak has agreed not to run for re-election. But protestors are demanding that he step down immediately, with some calling for him to be tried and executed.
An unofficial spokesman for the hacker network told the New York Times that the efforts were part of a wider campaign to support protests that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks. In January, for example, Anonymous members shut down the Tunisian dictatorship’s sites, as well as the stock market there. The tyrant fled the country.
“We want freedom,” the Anonymous spokesman said. “It’s as simple as that. We’re sick of oppressive governments encroaching on people.”