Impersonating Anonymous: Is It State Sponsored Terrorism?

The re-release by AnonSolutions was accompanied by efforts to spread the video on various websites and Facebook groups… while missing most of the key communications hubs of those associated with Anonymous. This botched release suggested the poster was not familiar with Anonymous. Throw away accounts have been used in a similar way on Wikipedia by NGO staff trying to manipulate their own pages, presumably after being asked to do so by management. There is an obvious difference between a member of an online community and an interloper. This video comes from an interloper.

This was not the first anti-Israel video claiming to be from Anonymous. There were two others incident periods last year. The more recent was in November. The videos released last year bear a strikingly similar in style, message and production to this latest video. They may even have been a trial run. If so, the repeated use of different throw away accounts over an extended period suggests organizational backing and indicated the timing of the release may have indeed been deliberately planned.

This brings us back to the contents of the video itself. It includes a long list of anti-Semitic tropes, from control of the media (“the propaganda that you circulate through the main stream media”) and of world governments (“and lobby through the political establishment”), to accusations of “Zionist bigotry” and inherent cruelty (“you laugh while planning your next attack”). Perhaps most telling is the claim that “so long as your regime exists, peace shall be hindered”, a call for the destruction of the State of Israel which is later repeated (“You are unworthy to exist in your current form”). The video includes a version of the Livingstone Formulation, claiming the State of Israel “label[s] all who refuse to comply with your superstitious demands as Anti-Semitic, and have taken steps to ensure a nuclear holocaust.” The claim seeks to shield criticism of Iran’s genocidal nuclear aims from criticism of being anti-Semitic, while trying to inverse the charge and point it at Israel.

This effort to subvert Anonymous to Iran’s cause may be the work of an individual anti-Israel activist or the Iranian proxy Hamas. However, the timing, linguistics, method of release and method of promotion are all a little too consistent with Iranian interests. The mix of skill impersonating previous Anonymous videos, coupled with the lack of understanding about Anonymous and the online ecosystem, not to mention the persistence, all add credence to the state sponsorship theory. Of course it is Anonymous itself that is best placed to trace this back to its source.

Efforts have been made to turn Anonymous against Israel before, but they tend to be rejected fairly swiftly in any discussion. Those who oppose Internet regulation, who believe in civil disobedience and value debate, are likely to find much they agree with in Israel’s hyper democracy. They are likely to respect her for maintaining those values despite the pressures of war, terrorism, and threats of genocide. Anonymous has no quarrel with Israel, to argue otherwise is to ignore the values that bring members of Anonymous together, or to admit ignorance of the State of Israel, a young country built on the values of innovation, cooperation and freedom.

Dr Andre Oboler holds a PhD in Computer Science from the UK and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in political science in Israel.