The cyberwars against the Islamic State (IS) by Anonymous seem to be taking a toll on the Cyber Caliphate. Two primary crews, BinarySec and Ghost Security (GhostSec), all members of Anonymous, are the one’s wreaking the most havoc when it comes to Tangos Down. It is within this small, tight knit framework that the world is only recently learning about the nearly year long campaign by civilians to do that which the most powerful government’s on the face of the earth were unable — or unwilling — to do. One of the most clear and distinct issues which I am able to identify, thus far, is the ability to disseminate high production value material in order to redress that which IS has been rolling out for over a year now.
#BinarySec is a pretty close group of fellow Anonymous members. We have covered them in the past. Sans the political infighting which early on appeared to be a potential issue within other crews, #BinarySec has begun to make a name for themselves by and through the Tangos Down they have begun to amass.
And for those whom think it is a male orientated war, make no mistake whatsoever, the women knock the Tangos out of the park at the same pace and make no bones about the fact that they are a force to be contended with as well. @TouchMyTweets, as many will recall, has been my somewhat tour guide, walking this n00b through the maze like corridors not only of how the cyberwar against the Islamic State is waged, but also assisting me from getting my dick unjammed when I find it in a vice with respect to the politics which are always present. 😉
This article is twofold in nature: first, I am going to discuss #BinarySec a bit and then I am going to address some concerns I have for the slippery slope we are heading down when we target hackers and do not expect the same. More on point, though, my concern becomes when this war winds down and it is going to do that when we find a new boogieman with whom to spook the American Public with, are those whom so valiantly are waging silent war on our behalf going to be likewise dispatched? Perhaps not with drones; however, it is a question to ask.
Coming on the heels of an earlier drone strike by the US which killed Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, a deputy to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on 18 August, Junaid Hussain, better known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, was killed by a US drone strike on 24 August, outside of Raqqa, Syria. Hussain, a British National, was Number 3 on the CIAs Kill List.
I want that to sink in, for a minute. Now, I am not stating that Hussain wasn’t a fucked up person; I just want the gravity of the aforementioned to sink in, very deeply, for a moment. The reason for this is because it is now open season on anyone in front of the keyboard, myself included, whom either the US or any enemy combatants — hell enter Nation States as well — choose to come after.
Assassinations and the corpus of law surrounding such really finds its beginnings with Hugo Grotius in 1625. From there, the United States built upon such by and through Doctor Francis Lieber, whom was commissioned by Lincoln’s Secretary of War Stanton, and in 1860 the Lieber Code was issued to the US Army. Article 148 of the Order stated:
The law of war does not allow proclaiming either an individual belonging to the hostile army, or a citizen, or a subject of the hostile government, an outlaw, who may be slain without trial by any captor, any more than the modern law of peace allows such international outlawry; on the contrary, it abhors such outrage. The sternest retaliation should follow the murder committed in consequence of such proclamation, made by whatever authority. Civilized nations look with horror upon offers of rewards for the assassination of enemies as relapses into barbarism.
The formulation of a body of international treaty law that restricts the practice of assassination began with the Brussels Conference of 1874 which included denouncing any “treacherous attempt on the life of an enemy.” The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907 produced a number of major international instruments, including the Convention on the Law and Customs of War on Land. Article 23(b) of the annex to this convention stated that “[t]he right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited, it is especially forbidden . . . to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army.” As the United States has never ratified the Geneva Convention, the reality is that it would be moot to include here. The Army’s most recent draft of the manual, 1956’s The Law of Land Warfare, incorporates both definitions into a single heading, and includes verbatim Hague IV’s restriction on “kill[ing] or wound[ing] treacherously.”
Why am I indulging commentary which would tend to be concerned about the time, place and manner of how an IS enemy combatant was terminated with extreme prejudice? Carl von Clausewitz suggested: “War is a continuation of political activity by other means”—a theory that leads one to believe that in war, every killing is a political one.” The United States is not currently at war with the Islamic State, as far as I have been able to find any legal or Congressional Declaration. So, my quandary presents that at some near or distant future, whom is to say that whether it be extraterritorial or domestic, the same logic might not apply to the targeting of Anonymous or [insert here any faction the Administration no longer desires] to the same logic and protocols?
Assassination during peacetime generally means the killing of someone for political reasons. As a formal crime, however, it is still difficult to define precisely. Many scholars believe it to be a subset of murder, with the choice to kill motivated by politics, and the particular target selected because of his identity, prominence, or public status. Some, within the Judge Advocate General’s Office believe that the distinction between assassination and murder lies both within mens rea and in the covert nature of the attack.
In their findings, the Church Committee stated that in the absence of war, assassination should be rejected as a tool of American foreign policy. The practice was “incompatible with American principle, international order, and morality,” it reasoned, and violated the “moral precepts fundamental to our way of life.”
After examining the United States’ recent history of military action, it seems that the typical strategy of our government during the past twenty-five years rarely, if ever, is prohibited by either domestic or international law. When dealing with rogue dictators or terrorists such as Saddam Hussein or Usama bin Laden, the United States has consistently employed aerial bombardment and cruise missile attacks to strike at them directly. As each was an attack against a military target or a counterterror operation, any resulting deaths would not be considered assassinations under the Clinton and Reagan exceptions to Executive Order 12333. Under international law, missiles and bombs are not deemed treacherous, and their use does not constitute outlawry. Although the United States did not strike under a formal declaration of war, in each case it responded either to a threat of attack or an actual attack against it or another state. Both of these situations would justify the use of force as a matter of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.
One of the biggest problems which both the United States and the International Coalition is facing, with respect to the Islamic State (IS), is the ability to understand and counter the information architecture and dissemination of high product propaganda. Currently, there is zero and I mean LESS THAN ZERO information which is put forth pertaining to IS and the war against IS. Granted, there are some Talking Points which are tossed around and periodic High Value Target assassinations, but there is nothing which is targeted towards those whom are so viscerally impacted by the lonely and oft times unknown war which only a select few, global Anonymous warriors are fighting, day and night, on behalf of the civilized world.
The full body of Islamic State propaganda is vast. At the time of writing, an average of three videos and four photographic reports are circulated per day. 9 Radio news bulletins appear daily, meticulously timed
in their regularity and broadcast in multiple languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, English, French and Russian.
Remind me again precisely why we have clandestine services? While I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, pulling off the smoke and mirrors propaganda which IS currently has does not strike me as that difficult — unless you do not want to combat it. Unless, perhaps, you need a boogieman around. And here is a salient fact: We have run out of enemies to continue throwing at the American Public. Without the Islamic State it would be pretty damn difficult to justify the nearly complete removal and/or suspension of all civil rights as we have ongoing in the United States. And when you examine the entire corpus of evidence documenting the fact that the United States at least tacitly if not overtly created the Islamic State, the fundamental question which presents is precisely why do we not have an active and aggressive propaganda campaign against IS?
Foreclosurepedia has advocated for a centralized distribution point of information for quite some time now. The primary reason for this is that the vast majority of the world have no clue how to sift through the piles of tweets and then become exasperated when sifting through a million retweets of the same information. And while there are a smattering of articles on the internet discussing the cyberwar, the reality is that the global public have no information even pertaining to the statistics with respect to the ongoing cyberwar ongoing, by proxy, on behalf of democracy.
#BinarySec is the last, non government affiliated Anonymous group I have direct contact with these days. While many argue about the purity of a crew, the reality is that perhaps allowing civilians the full discretion to wage and launch campaigns of their own accord might not be a bad thing. Coming from a military background, the reality is that all of us have a predictable nature about us. This is based, in part, upon the fact that there is a manual for everything which we do. The manuals exist to ensure that there is One Thought, One Action, One Result. The problem with applying this mentality to the ongoing cyberwarfare against the Islamic State is the simple fact that we have never been here before. And the only people whom have ever dealt with this type of evolution are either buried so deeply within the alphabet soup agencies that they will never see the light of day or other foreign national entities whom are hell bent on the destruction of Western Civilization.
So, what is the damage assessment, thus far, against the Islamic State? We really do not have any publicly accessible information on this other than one distinct statement which was published by #BinarySec yesterday evening,
We do have a plethora of running tweets which document the Tangos Down pertaining to engagements by both #BinarySec and #GhostSec. And inside of these engagements we are somewhat able to pick up bits and pieces of the warfare, back and forth. What is for certain, is that an American based entity, CloudFlare, appears to be giving the Islamic State, safe haven from the point-of-view that they provide caching (Content Delivery Network (CDN)) services, free of charge, which tends to make more difficult the ability to remove terrorist content.
The ability for #BinarySec to function, in the clear, is based upon a well disciplined set of rules which all of their members adhere to religiously. As opposed to some club or group of kids out raising hell on the block at night, #BinarySec members know that it only takes one slip to not only give away their location, but like a cascade, the one slip would potentially reveal everyone’s location. Over the past several months as I have engaged they and other Anonymous crews, I was extremely impressed with the parameters involved during our conversations. Below, is an example not only of notifying others of a security issue, but also onboarding a potential recruit.
A secondary biproduct of the cyberwar against the Islamic State is what I call Targets of Opportunity. Below, you see that a Neo Nazi website was identified and rapidly put out of commission. In my humble opinion, that is two birds with one stone!
Tomorrow, we are going to begin to flesh out greater details about #BinarySec and also dig deeper into the Propaganda Machine which the Islamic State has invested heavily into. As I am heading back to Area 51 in Nevada tomorrow at midnight, there will be periodic lulls in my reporting. I am hopeful, though, to be able to arrange to have some of those within #BinarySec appear on a podcast or, at least, participate in a Q&A. In the meantime, I want to personally thank the following for speaking with me and dealing with questions which must have caused many of them to pull their hair out and undoubtedly breaking half a dozen keyboards with frustration over my inept questioning. 😉