Syrian ministry hacked

The website of Syria's Ministry of Defense, now down, briefly displayed this message today:

To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime’s brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.

To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country – rise up against the regime! – Anonymous


  1. I wonder if this was Anonymous or the US Gov. trying to be Anonymous?  This smacks of State Department or CIA asymmetric “Warspeak” 

    I hope the Syrians are able to get rid of the Assad Regime, but if it comes out that the US gov is helping or supporting them, it will only make it harder for them to succeed.

    1. Except these words are very similar to the words used in the other cases of Government websites being taken out during other uprisings.

      While everyone likes to imagine Anonymous as a bunch of children giggling at cat pictures and sending RickRoll links to each other in nerdy ways, there are many intelligent people involved.

      Not everything under the banner of Anonymous is world shattering and important, the media likes to focus on them tormenting someone by sending hookers and pizza not the other things done with the benefit of others in mind.

      These words encourage people to finally take a stand against the unacceptable, and the US Government should be more concerned that these might just be practice runs to what will happen if they continue to behave like these dictators they denounce publicly but model themselves after in policy.

    2. Where in the rules does it say that members of the US government can’t be Anonymous? We all our Anonymous. Everyone. It’s in the air. The trees. It surrounds us.

  2. Way to jump right in there, anonymous… A bold move to be sure. I really hope that the immediate results do not include people getting shot.

    1. I had kind of the same gut feeling. There was an xkcd cartoon a few days ago about how defacing the CIA’s webpage is roughly as difficult and serious as tearing down a CIA recruiting poster, but 99% of us hear “the CIA was hacked!!” on the news and draw entirely the wrong conclusion about how powerful these hackers are. 

      I hope that Syrians rise up and overthrow the Asad government, but it’s ultimately their choice and their responsibility. As opposed to mine, because, you know, I am absolutely safe from any reprisal whatsoever, just like Anonymous. 

      Maybe you never get a revolution without someone with no skin in the game tricking people into risking their lives, but it feels skeevy and presumptuous on some level. When and if the Syrian government finally collapses, I’m sure Anonymous will be patting themselves on the back for a job well done, but in the meantime they won’t be there to help drag away the bodies of the people this helped convince.

      I know it’s not simple and I’m not saying whoever did this is some kind of callous, manipulative monster getting people bludgeoned for the lulz. But it’s not exactly 100% morally unambiguous either.

      1. > Maybe you never get a revolution without someone with no skin in the
        > tricking people into risking their lives, but it feels skeevy and
        presumptuous on some level. 

        Except you’re assuming the Anonymous hackers have no personal stake in the matter, and the internet is too democratizing to make that assumption anymore.

        It’s true the message is written in fluid English, rather than say Arabic, but that doesn’t really mean that much anymore. I’d agree it seems unlikely to me too that everyone involved in that particular hack is geographically inside Syria, but to assume none of them are and/or none of them has close personal ties to people inside Syria is more assuming than I think is really warranted anymore in a world that’s become so closely tied togther.

        1. You’re right, I am assuming that the people who did this have no direct personal stake in the matter. Not just because of the language, but because (for example) they chose to put up an “Anonymous” icon rather than, say, something that might resonate with the people getting shot at in Damascus or Hama. Or because the text is pretty clearly saying “we, the rest of the world, have your back.” In actual fact, the rest of the world is sitting on its hands.

          1. > In actual fact, the rest of the world is sitting on its hands. 

            Yeah, on a governmental level, I agree.

            But on the level of where the stakes for individuals lie, I think the way the world is connected has just gotten too complicated to be able to guess too far anymore. Your point is well-taken that the text of the message was written from the perspective of someone looking in from the outside, but my point was that that doesn’t necessarily make it all that likely that the writer and/or the other people involved don’t have a personal stake in the matter anymore.

            So, to give an example from a totally different situation, because it’s what I happen to know, my ex is a first generation Chinese-American. He speaks Chinese at about the level of a four year old and knows very little about Chinese culture or politics, but most of his relatives still live in China. Yeah, he doesn’t have to worry for a second about being thrown in prison for having a political opinion, but he certainly has a stake in Chinese politics even if he chooses not to be engaged in it.

            I’m not saying there’s not gradations (often huge ones) in the severity of possible outcomes depending on how one is involved in a situation, just that I don’t think the line between “inside” and “outside” is as absolute as it once was, and that it’s not really a safe assumption that someone who looks like they’re on the outside really is.

          2. In actual fact, the rest of the world is sitting on its hands.

            So you draw that conclusion from…people taking down the ministry’s website? It seems to me that at least some folks are doing what they can, or what they’re good at. People are not governments.

        2. The message is in Arabic as well as English.The Arabic text is on the right and, since Arabic is written right to left, a native speaker would see it as coming before the English text.

          Did Anonymous have the message properly translated, or did they just run it through Google Translate or whatever?

      2. “Maybe you never get a revolution without someone with no skin in the
        game tricking people into risking their lives, but it feels skeevy and
        presumptuous on some level.”

        Or maybe they are trying to remind them that other people are aware of their plight and they need only reach out to find that help.  They are not getting tricked, they are possibly for the first time seeing that other people are aware of these outrageous crimes against them.  Not feeling ignored might be all they need to decide for themselves that they deserve better.

  3. When you see news stories about Anonymous being a bunch of silly childish punks or thrill-seeking script-kiddies remember actions like this.  In some ways, this is the voice of a new generation – raised in a world where activism is a valid form of political expression, empowered and skilled in the use of powerful technology their parents and their Luddite foes don’t fully understand, and much much less tolerant of corporate, religious or state-sponsored evil.  Much like Amnesty International, their power largely comes from simply reminding bullies that, thanks to the Internet, *everyone* is watching.

  4. If Assad is deposed, I hope Syria won’t end up like Egypt, with the army and the Muslim Brotherhood ascendant and the original pro-freedom protesters sidelined.

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