Last night a self-proclaimed spokesman for the hacker collective known as Anonymous uploaded a YouTube video that claims they have planted a bomb in a federal building and it is set to detonate on November 5, 2012. The video style is typical of old style Anonymous videos, showing a person in a suit and a Guy Fawkes mask, made familiar by the movie “V for Vendetta” narrating the message with voice alternation. A twitter account @FawkesSecurity associated with the YouTube account tweeted out the threat and link to the video:
The text of the video:
“Dear citizens of the world,
We are anonymous. As of today 200 kilograms of composite Nitroglycerin and commercial explosives have effectively been concealed in a government building, situated in the united states of America. on the 5th of November 2012 the device will detonate remotely via the transmission control protocol, leaving behind severe consequences. We would like to advise that the contraption is built inside a tamper proof apparatus sensitive to physical intrusions or attempted disarmament, thus resulting in the desired effect, if the military grade device is found before the 5th of November. there is no intention, risks or circumstances what so ever to cause harm to innocent people, but we can not, say the same for the people who are the real terrorists, oppressors and war creators.
we are anonymous
we are legion
we do not forget
we do not forgive
on the 5th of November, you will expect us.”
November 5th in the United Kingdom is known as Guy Fawkes Day and also Bonfire Night and Fireworks Night. It is traditionally a night of revelry celebrating the night when Guy Fawkes and fellow conspirators attempted to kill King James I and the Members of Parliament and to blow up the Houses of Parliament and in modern times is pretty much a party night, with a lot of parks & communities holding bonfires and barbeques.
November 5th, 2012 is also the scheduled date for an Anonymous planned protest initiated in the United Kingdom designed to create a resurgence in Anonymous protests and profile. This protest is known as Operation Vendetta or OpVendetta, named for the movie “V for Vendetta” that is a reference point of motivation and style for Anonymous (and the source of the Guy Fawkes masks as noted above). Anonymous spokesman AnonATeam in the UK claims,
“On the 5 November 2012 the Anonymous Collective will engage in the largest orchestrated attack on the Governments of the World. The centerpiece will be the re-enactment of the Film V for Vendetta scene at the Houses of Parliament with ground and online protests across the globe,”
The UK OpVendetta facebook page currently shows 1,631 members who have stated they will attend the public protest in the UK November 5, and while primarily scheduled as a protest in the UK, the group hopes this day will inspire protests worldwide. Anonymous also, of course, claimed a barrage of cyber attacks will also take place on that date.
FawkesSecurity is not a new Anonymous account. The YouTube account tied to the bomb threat has a collection of previous videos done in the same style, and FawkesSecurity recently claimed credit for the very real Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on HSBC Bank last week and received congratulations from other Anonymous members for the hit. FawkesSecurity is also tied to a few unpublished DDoS attacks on corporate websites.
The bomb threat announcement from FawkesSecurity was met with a flurry of skepticism from several Twitter users online at the time, with some taunting FawkesSecurity as a federal account or false flag operation aimed at painting Anonymous as a whole as a domestic terrorism organization. FawkesSecurity’s bomb threat is possibly a bunch of hype – either designed by Anonymous to draw media attention to the OpVendetta protest or it could be a campaign created by outsiders to paint Anonymous as domestic terrorists.
Or is the threat real? Does FawkesSecurity have a bomb set to go off November 5? Hard to say - it is easy to scoff at the dramatics of the video threat, but then again, it isn’t outside the realm of possibility a single or group of individuals could download instructions for making a bomb, make one and plant it out there. Sources for making a bomb in your kitchen such as the classic The Anarchists Cookbook, have been around for decades and are easy to find on the internet. More dangerous, detailed instructions as well as contraband ingredients and materials are also easy to find on the Dark Net black markets if you know how to navigate your way there, and a good number of Anonymous hackers certainly do. Online instructions for making bombs and other weapons are regularly circulated among al Qaeda and other terrorist forums to enable self-radicalization and terror attacks.
As is typical with more threatening or controversial Anonymous releases, some other members of Anonymous derided the announcement as a rogue or even bogus group that does not represent Anonymous as a whole. This is a fundamental problem with the Anonymous model of activism – anyone can join Anonymous and the members delight in pointing out it is a leaderless collective. Other hackers and pundits in the InfoSec Community have long cautioned Anonymous that their activism model of a leaderless hive exposes them to manipulation and infiltration by activists with darker agenda, including terrorists.
If anyone can join, then it stands to reason FawkesSecurity’s claim to the Anonymous mantle is as legitimate as any other member. The legitimacy of their claim to wielding a bomb remains to be seen