The online hacker collective Anonymous has begun releasing names of individuals it claims are terrorist recruiters living in Europe, says Business Insider. The names have reportedly been seen by the British daily newspaper, the Independent.
Anonymous says it has simultaneously "declared war" on ISIS by shutting down the websites of suspected militants and ISIS sympathizers. The online vigilante group is also scouring Twitter for accounts used as propaganda by terrorist-recruiting networks.
An online video released shortly after the attacks in Paris declares that "these attacks cannot go unpunished" and that "War is declared. Prepare yourselves." An American version has been released in solidarity with the French video.
Business Insider reports that: Anonymous began its campaign against ISIS in earnest after the killings at Charlie Hebdo in January. That work included launching attacks on extremist websites and finding extremist accounts on Twitter so the social network could take them down.
The topic of vigilante justice is a new one confronted by the digital age and we have seen recent examples from Cecil the lion to Bill Cosby. Campaigns in those cases seem justified, although, of course, they circumvent due process — a right guaranteed by Western legal norms in nations like France.
Anonymous has gotten it wrong before: "[I]n the past a group took down the website of a moderate faction in Syria, apparently because the group used the word 'Islam' in its name." It is for this reason, we assume, that Anonymous is releasing personal information to newspapers rather than the general public.
Person wears a Guy Fawkes mask which today is a trademark and symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. 2012. (Photo by: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)
A photo taken on November 16, 2015 in Paris shows the Eiffel Tower illuminated with the colours of the French national flag in tribute to the victims of November 13 Paris terror attacks which killed at least 129 people in scenes of carnage at a concert hall, restaurants and the national stadium. AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)