On the morning before the 12-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, several East End based websites were hacked by a self-described Islamic extremist, replacing the normal home pages with a six-minute-long video featuring Osama Bin Laden and a message from the hacker claiming responsibility.
Hacker KJ-FIDO, who goes by the name Fahd Al Murar on Facebook, claims to be part of the management team of Web-Soldiers, “a free, safe and legal training ground for hackers to test and expand their hacking skills.” The Web-Soldiers Facebook page, which has 560 followers, features the ubiquitous Guy Fawkes mask, a symbol of anti-government movements worldwide, and predominantly posts in Arabic.
KJ-FIDO, who claims to be a high school student from the United Arab Emirates despite a Facebook page that says he attended Harvard University, has more than 2,000 Facebook followers. His page indicates that he is a veteran hacker; his name or location could not be verified. His profile picture is of Abu al-Walid, a Saudi-born jihadist who was killed by Russian military forces in 2004 while fighting in Chechnya.
The messages posted to the hacked sites also called the Web-Soldiers by the names Islamic Electronic Army and the Al Qaeda Army. Protesting last year’s film “Innocence of Muslims,” the Islamic Electronic Army gained notoriety by hacking several U.S. websites. This was the same film once thought to be behind the terrorist attack of a U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
On the Sag Harbor Village website, the first of the four sites hacked, messages posted by KJ-FIDO include, “We are Muslims. We are many. We are strong. If you touch one person from us, we will destroy you, your life, your county, your happiness. We launched this event named #OP_USA and #OP_Israel. Believe me, this [is] the last time we will hear something named Israel! Free Palestine. Free Syria. Free Afghanistan. Free Muslims.”
The village site was hacked at about 9:45 a.m. Beginning at approximately 1 p.m. on Tuesday, the page looked as if it were functioning normally, although no links were working. By Wednesday morning, the links working again.
Mayor Brian Gilbride confirmed the hack as being legitimate and said the matter has been handed over to the Sag Harbor Village Police Department.
Sag Harbor Police Chief Tom Fabiano said that police believe the hacker got in through the host server and is accessing sites all from a single common server. Chief Fabiano said police are “doing what we can with the IP addresses,” but that he anticipates enlisting the help of the Suffolk County Police Department’s Cyber Crimes division.
Other sites hacked by KJ-FIDO on Tuesday include pet-er.com, the site for the East End Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center in Riverhead, a Westhampton Beach business called Gentry Contracting Co. and Orange Sewer and Drains, a Bay Shore company.
In an online conversation with the Press, Fahd Al Murar warned that Tuesday’s hack of the Sag Harbor site was just the beginning, a warning shot that a full-scale hacking operation would commence on Wednesday the 11th.
In fact, the Islamic Electronic Army and their September 11 hacking campaign, called #OP_USA, has been recognized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cyber Division as a threat in an unclassified memo released last week.
Fahd Al Murar said the Web-Soldiers team is made up of six people—three hackers, two spammers and one security expert—but declined to say how many of these small teams make up the Islamic Electronic Army.
The hacker said the attacks were in response to a viral video of an Arab woman being beaten by police officers in Spain. When asked why a video of Osama Bin Laden was placed on the sites, on the day before September 11, instead of a video of the woman being beaten, as has been the case with other hacks around the world by the Web-Soldiers as part of the #OP_USA movement, KJ-FIDO called Bin Laden a “hero man,” and said that he admired his “mujahid,” or jihad.