Commentary Magazine


Topic: Anonymous

Jihadymous

The Washington Times reports on a possible hacker-jihad alliance. The anarchist group Anonymous is launching new cyberattacks against the U.S. government. But “the attacks are being promoted by the moderators of websites and discussion forums that host al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist material, in addition to calls through more conventional hacker channels like the bulletin board Pastebin.” According to the Department of Homeland Security, “This collaboration may signal an emerging trend of Middle East- and North Africa-based criminally motivated hackers collaborating with others regardless of their motivation.”

It would only be shocking if this didn’t prove to be the start of an emerging trend. But it’s not that hackers and jihadists would collaborate “regardless of motivation.” Rather, they share a motivation. Back in March 2011, I wrote about the affinity between anarchist hackers and jihadists:

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The Washington Times reports on a possible hacker-jihad alliance. The anarchist group Anonymous is launching new cyberattacks against the U.S. government. But “the attacks are being promoted by the moderators of websites and discussion forums that host al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist material, in addition to calls through more conventional hacker channels like the bulletin board Pastebin.” According to the Department of Homeland Security, “This collaboration may signal an emerging trend of Middle East- and North Africa-based criminally motivated hackers collaborating with others regardless of their motivation.”

It would only be shocking if this didn’t prove to be the start of an emerging trend. But it’s not that hackers and jihadists would collaborate “regardless of motivation.” Rather, they share a motivation. Back in March 2011, I wrote about the affinity between anarchist hackers and jihadists:

Of the two types of present-day anarchism, the cyber variety is clearly the greater threat. Cyberanarchists are a well-adapted parasitic complication of modern times, whereas the European bomb throwers, for their rising numbers, are almost symbolically retro. Some among the latter have even taken to warning their targets in advance. Moreover, as the world economy finds its footing, disgruntled leftists of all stripes are sure to fade away. But the cyberanarchists, in addition to having the effective means, will also have their cause so long as their “new home of social consciousness” needs defending.

“That we are Utopians is well known,” wrote Peter Kropotkin of his ideological tribe. Whether they are indulging in a violent retro pastime or disruptive futuristic one, today’s anarchists remain utopians, believing, like yesterday’s, that they own the future. And the delusional claim on the world to come will always foster nihilism in the here and now. “We are not the least afraid of ruin,” said the Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durutti. Why? “We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. . . . The bourgeoisie may blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history.” That indifference to the destructive acts of others functions as a dispensation they grant themselves. In this, the anarchists are like the jihadists, who value only the eventuality of the global caliphate and care not at all for the world that actually exists.

Jihadists’ global caliphate is physical, cyberanarchists’ is digital. But it’s the destruction of the U.S.-led international order that motivates both. 

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