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April 2, 2015

Hackers Directly Threaten Individual Israeli Citizens

As hackers proceed with OpIsrael, an annual anti-Israel cyber-attack campaign, AnonGhost, a prominent hacker group with an Islamic extremist agenda claims that they are sending some Israeli citizens threatening messages via various messaging apps including Facebook and WhatsApp. These messages include threats of violence, vile language, and anti-Semitism.anonghost-opisrael

While these claims remain unconfirmed, AnonGhost claims it acquired a large amount of personal information about Israelis including phone numbers and Facebook accounts. The group distributed a list of more than two hundred Israeli phone numbers supposedly associated with WhatsApp accounts and promised that there are more numbers to be released on April 7, the official start date of OpIsrael. Anonymous hackers have also shared the list of WhatsApp contacts obtained by AnonGhost on their social media platforms.

Hackers have also shared what appear to be images of threatening messages they sent to Israeli citizens using Whatsapp, including “All your Private confidential details are in our hands, including your phone number/Your Home….we will kill you all of the Jews/Israelian.[sic].”

Other images show that hackers supposedly have made phone calls to threaten Israelis using the free calling feature on WhatsApp. It is unclear at this point what was said during the calls, but supposed screenshots of active WhatsApp calls indicate that this most likely is another tactic to intimidate Israelis.

Muhammed Nazmi (aka DonNazmi), one of the leaders of AnonGhost, posted images of what appear to be samples of messages he sent to Israelis. According to one  image, he initiated a conversation with an Israeli and once the Israeli responded, Nazmi sent a threatening message which included an image of an ISIS fighter with the caption, “We are coming O Jews to kill you.” Under the image, a message reads, “I am Donnazmi[blurred] from AnonGhost Team. Send This Msg to your GOV Israel you better get ready to be prepared #opIsrael 07/04/2015 is coming.”

Another image posted by Nazmi shows a message that includes what appears to be a personal family picture sent to a father with his children circled in red and a caption that reads, “I’ll stick a knife in their throats.”

Other hackers claimed that they hacked into Facebook chats with Israelis and posted images of conversations in which they injected comments such as “F**K Israel.”

As this campaign against continues, more Israelis will likely have to deal with such alarming messages.

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March 31, 2015

Rival Hackers Overcome Differences For Anti-Israel Cyber Campaign

Update — 4/2/15: For more information on OpIsrael, please see Hackers Directly Threaten Individual Israeli Citizens.

What has become an annual cyber campaign against Israel, “OpIsrael” – which coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day in previous years – is once again taking place this year; this time, by a broader coalition of hackers than ever before.AnonGhost OpIsrael 2015

In light of the uptick in attacks against Jewish institutional websites in the U.S. by international hacking groups over the past few years, both Israeli and Jewish websites worldwide are expected to be targets of the cyber campaign.

In 2014, “OpIsrael” was primarily led by an Arab sub-division of Anonymous, which called for a cyber-attack against Israel on Holo­caust Remem­brance Day, threat­ening to launch “elec­tronic attacks against as many Israeli web­sites as pos­si­ble.” The group also threat­ened Israeli cit­i­zens: “Your credit cards, your bank accounts, your servers … are ALL in a danger!” In 2013, the group called for a similar campaign timed with Holo­caust Remem­brance Day to “wipe Israel off the Internet.”

This year, the Arab sub-division of Anonymous, in one of the videos it posted on YouTube, described “OpIsrael,” as an “Electronic Holocaust.”

There are strong indications, however, that AnonGhost, a prominent hacker group known for targeting Jewish and American websites, is seeking to replace Anonymous in spearheading “OpIsrael.”

For example, earlier this month, AnonGhost launched and promoted software enabling users to conduct cyber-attacks against Israeli (and other) targets. The software appears to enable users to initiate denial of service (DOS) attacks. AnonGhost has already claimed responsibility for the hacking of several Israeli websites in the past week in the lead up to “OpIsrael.”

On March 31, AnonGhost members claimed that they started messaging Israeli citizens with warnings about OpIsrael. The threatening messages included an image of an ISIS fighter with the caption, “We are coming O Jews to kill you.” Under the image, AnonGhost members introduce themselves and ask the recipients to deliver the warning to the Israeli government.

An image of the threatening message sent to Israeli citizens featuring an ISIS fighter

An image of the threatening message sent to Israeli citizens featuring an ISIS fighter

By injecting itself into “OpIsrael,” AnonGhost may take the campaign into a more extreme direction. For example, AnonGhost has been unambiguous about supporting ISIS and has carried out hacks on its behalf. This activity differs from the Anonymous collective, which has launched cyber-campaigns to counter ISIS’ online presence. In January 2015, for example, theylaunched a campaign against Jihadist websites titled OpCharlieHebdo in response to terrorist attacks in France.

There are indications that AnonGhost and the broader Anonymous collective have even engaged in a cyber-conflict against each other; Mauritania Attacker, the ostensible leader of AnonGhost, claims to have hacked a group of Anonymous members known as “Anonymous Squad No.035,” the Serbian sub-division of Anonymous.Anonymous OpIsrael 2015

The apparent conflict between AnonGhost and the Anonymous collective, however, does not seem to have prevented them both from participating in this year’s “OpIsrael.” Opposition to Israel seems to be a common cause.

It is important to note that ADL is currently unaware of any specific cyber threat to the American Jewish community. Nevertheless, we are urging Jewish communities to revisit and reassess their cyber-security plans, measures, and procedures.

Related Information:

ADL Alerts U.S. Synagogues to Protect Against Online Hackers

ISIS Establishes A Cyber-Alliance With Anti-Israel Hackers

Hackers Post Anti-Semitism On U.S. Universities’ Websites

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March 18, 2015

NJ Man Arrested For Trying to Join ISIS Espoused Anti-Semitism Online

Tairod Pugh

Tairod Pugh

A New Jersey man, indicted yesterday for attempting to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), marks the 12th U.S. resident charged with supporting or joining Islamic extremism this year and demonstrates the presence of anti-Semitism and role of online propaganda in the radicalization process.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh is a U.S. citizen and former air force mechanic from Neptune, NJ. He allegedly attempted to travel to join ISIS in January but was detained and sent back to the U.S. by Egyptian officials. Pugh was arrested on January 16, 2015, upon his return to the U.S., but the charges were made public following yesterday’s indictment.

Pugh’s Facebook profile included multiple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts supporting Hamas.

In July 2014, Pugh wrote a post that stated, in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within themselves. On the day of Judgment full responsibility of the starving, torture, jailing and killing of innocent Muslims will rest upon there (sic) shoulders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang themselves,” and posted an image with text stating, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.” In August 2014, he shared an image that referenced blood libel accusations, depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slitting the throats of sleeping children.

Pugh also posted several cartoons equating Jews, Israel or Zionists to Nazis, as well as multiple images claiming to depict Israeli war crimes.

An anti-Semitic post on Tairod Pugh's Facebook page.

An anti-Semitic post on Tairod Pugh’s Facebook page.

Although Pugh did not publicly post his support for ISIS, he did share a quote by terror propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki in August 2014. Awlaki is frequently cited as an inspiration for extremism by Americans who have been linked to terrorism.

Pugh allegedly also used his computer to research joining ISIS and watch ISIS propaganda videos. An investigation reportedly found that he had used the internet to search for the terms, “borders controlled by Islamic state,” “who controls kobani (a city that has been contested by ISIS),” “kobani border crossing,” and “jarablus border crossing,” and the feature-film length terror propaganda video “Flames of War,” which depicts and apocalyptic struggle between ISIS and the West. He had also allegedly viewed a chart of crossing points between Turkey and Syria and had downloaded at least one ISIS execution video, along with other ISIS videos.

Additional Facebook posts by Pugh demonstrated anti-U.S. sentiment. One post from August 2014, taken from Iranian controlled media outlet Press TV, depicted protesters burning an effigy of President Barack Obama. A post earlier that month included an article that Pugh wrote describing “the rape of a Muslim woman by the American forces.” According to media reports, some Facebook posts not publicly available also expressed Pugh’s desire to never return to the U.S.

Pugh also shared images praising the terror group Hamas. In August 2014, he shared an apparent image of Hamas militants “returned safely after 21 days of siege.” In July 2014, he shared a photo of Hamas militants with the caption, “Thank you! You make us proud …”

The 12 U.S. residents charged with Islamic extremism related terror offenses this year have been arrested in 7 different states including New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana and Missouri. Pugh is also the 31st American resident publicly linked to ISIS since 2014.

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