An original link to a video that threatened to attack Israel posted on Youtube, allegedly by the hacker group Anonymous, has disappeared – increasing speculation that the video threat to Israel wasn’t posted by Anonymous at all.
The video, posted last week, threatened a “crusade” against Israel, with unending cyberwar designed to “remove Israel from the Internet.” In the video, a computer-generated voice, on a background of the now-famous proto-UN symbol used by Anonymous, says “We are Anonymous. For two long we have tolerated your crimes against humanity and allowed your sins to go unpunished… You are unworthy to exist in your current form. and will therefore face the wrath of anonymous. Your empire lacks legitimacy and because of this you must govern behind a curtain of deceit. We will not allow you to attack a sovereign country based upon a campaign of lies. Your grip over humanity will weaken and man will be closer to freedom.”
The video raised some concerns among supporters of Israel (and, of course, elicited cheers from the anti-Israel crowd), given the success Anonymous has had in hacking into U.S. government sites, among others. “Our crusade against your reign of terror shall commence in 3 steps,” the cyber-narration in the video continued. “Step one will be initiated after the release of this video and will be comprised of systematically removing you from the internet. Step two will be later disclosed and is already in initiation. And as for step 3, well think of this one as a present from Anonymous to you. We will not stop untill the police state becomes a free state.”
But several days after the video appeared, it disappeared – much to the chagrin of the many media sites that linked to it. The video was taken down without explanation or comment, and as a result of its removal, speculation has grown that the video wasn’t posted by Anonymous at all, but by an imposter group – possibly associated with Iran.
The evidence for inauthenticity was strong even before the video was removed, said local security expert David Schatz. “There are numerous reasons to believe that this was a fake in the first place,” the expert said. “If you have seen other Anonymous videos, you come away with the impression that ‘they’ – or at least the voice that narrates the text in each video message – is highly educated and knows English very well. My impression is that they are American, or are very familiar with American usages.”
That’s not the case with the message on Israel, though. “The narration in the anti-Israel video consists of very poor English. The sentence construction is all wrong, and the transliteration of the text that accompanied the video (excerpted above) is full of errors.” Some of the phrases in the video – such as “We see through the propaganda that you circulate through the main stream media,” and the sentence “As the world weeps you laugh while planning your next attack” included in the narration indicate that the text was read by someone far less polished than the usual Anonymous spokespeople. “I have to imagine they would be embarrassed by this performance, given their usual proper usage,” the expert said.
So if the video wasn’t posted by Anonymous, who made the threats? One sentence in the video — “We will not allow you to attack a sovereign country based upon a campaign of lies” — is a good indicator, the expert said. “That sentence is really just thrown in without context, and is out of character for the rest of the video. The word ‘Iran,’ to which this is clearly referring, is not mentioned. If Anonymous wanted to threaten Israel not to attack Iran, they certainly would do so, as they have not shown any reluctance in taking on any other issue. Actually, the whole tone of this video is closer to the kind of anti-Israel speech you would expect to hear from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than the usual solid message you hear from Anonymous.”
The video still exists online, as it has been copied and uploaded by numerous people – and some of them appear on one of the many channels on Youtube that use the name “Anonymous.” But the fact is that the video did not appear on any of these channels when it was first released; it originally appeared on Youtube on an unnamed account, and is no longer online. Did the “real” Anonymous act to remove it? It’s a mystery of the Internet era that will probably never be solved, but so far, Israel’s servers are safe and secure. If Anonymous had really set its sights on Israeli sites, chances are that the group probably could have pulled it off, at least to some extent.