An anti-terrorist hacker has publicly revealed 97 websites used by the terrorist organization ISIS for recruitment and for spreading propaganda through articles, photos, and videos.
After ISIS terrorists killed 130 people and wounded roughly 350 more in the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, hackers were spurred into action.
Soon after, the hacker collective Anonymous openly declared war on the online efforts of ISIS.
According to WauchulaGhost, the hacker who released the ISIS website list, “It will give everyone that is fighting Islamic State not only a chance to see what they (ISIS) really are, but a chance to attack and shut these sites down on their own.”
“There are many many individuals and groups waiting for this list,” WauchulaGhost said in an interview over Twitter.
“This is for all the innocent lives lost in the Paris Attacks,” he said, noting the #Prayers4Paris hashtag on Twitter.
Among the sites are 80 used for propaganda, 12 discussion forums, and 5 for technical services.
A note on the online post states, “The sites listed below are in one way or another affiliated with the Islamic State Terrorists Group,” and notes that if any of the sites remove “all ISIS content,” the site will be taken off the public list.
It also lists which of the sites are using services from the Silicon Valley-based tech firm CloudFlare, which protects websites from cyberattacks.
Of the websites exposed by WauchulaGhost, 36 of the 97 are using CloudFlare. While CloudFlare has a policy not to review content of websites using its service, a representative told the Epoch Times in a previous interview that it will cooperate with government take-down requests.
WauchulaGhost is part of Anonymous, and is a former member of the anti-terrorist hacker group GhostSec, which earlier this year helped stop a planned ISIS terrorist attack in Tunisia, and may have prevented an attack in New York City.
GhostSec retains lists of ISIS websites, which it uses for cyberattacks and intelligence gathering.
WauchulaGhost said GhostSec used to share its lists with Anonymous, but stopped. He said GhostSec is sharing them again because “Anonymous has always been and is probably the biggest part of this Operation,” which they refer to as “#OpISIS.”
“We are sharing this so that everyone can have a piece of ISIS,” he said.
As part of the #OpISIS campaign, Anonymous claims to have taken 20,000 ISIS Twitter accounts offline. GhostSec, meanwhile, claims to have taken offline 149 terrorist websites and 6,000 YouTube videos, and flagged close to 101,000 Twitter accounts.
— WauchulaGhost (@WauchulaGhost) Nov. 19, 2015
The hackers understand that ISIS supporters will just repost their videos, start new websites, and make new Twitter accounts. According to WauchulaGhost, however, the value of #OpISIS is that it prevents ISIS propaganda from establishing an audience.
“The biggest reason would be ‘Habit,'” WauchulaGhost said. “If a site is up for a long period, more and more people go to it, more people remember it.”
He compared it to shopping, where people may develop habits of going to websites or stores, and notes that if the store keeps changing locations, it eliminates the element of habit.
The same applies to Twitter accounts, which usually slowly develop followings over time—and are viewed as being more credible as they gain more followers.
WauchulaGhost said the idea is to “take the BIG picture” away from ISIS. By forcing ISIS supporters to constantly start from scratch, it makes it harder for them to gain traction online.
Doing this work isn’t easy either. WauchulaGhost has received two death threats since the Paris attacks, yet said, “Threats won’t stop me.”
He also explained why he and other hackers don’t just rely on the authorities to fight ISIS. Many agencies, he said, like to do things by the book—which often means monitoring discussions for data and intel, and making the occasional arrest.
The problem with ISIS members is that they aren’t normal criminals, he said. “We are dealing with terrorists that have proven they will do anything and kill anyone.”
He added, “There is no time to monitor, It’s time to act.”