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updated 3/25/2011 4:15:35 PM ET 2011-03-25T20:15:35

Look out, Anonymous, there’s a knife sticking out of your back.

Three allegedly former members of the “hacktivist” consortium contacted bloggers in New York yesterday (March 18) to say that they were going to make public the names of Anonymous’ leaders.

A former “Anon” calling himself Hubris told Forbes blogger Andy Greenberg that he and his colleagues, who now call themselves Backtrace Security (there’s a website here ), were trying to put an end to Anonymous “in its current form.”

The offensive thing about Anonymous, according to Hubris, was that Anonymous had ceased to be offensive.

Instead of mocking teenage girls or posting pornographic images on other sites as it used to, the group has gotten moral, fighting for civil rights in the Middle East, for unions in Wisconsin and for WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning.

“[Anonymous] has truly become moralfags,” Hubris told Greenwald. “Anonymous has never been about revolutions. It’s not about the betterment of mankind. It’s the Internet hate machine, or that’s what it’s supposed to be.”

The two former Anons who contacted the gossip blog Gawker, while also associated with Backtrace Security, had slightly different motives.

“Anonymous is a vigilante group now,” the ex-Anon calling himself Metric told Gawker. “A mob without conscience. And I worry they will radicalize even more. In short, I believe they're on their way to becoming a genuine threat."

He and his crony A5h3r4 – that’s “Asher4” or “Ashera” in hacker “leet-speak” – gave Gawker archives of an Anonymous chatroom that showed evidence of leaders, hierarchy and followers within the supposedly anarchic, leaderless group.

The Backtrace Security website contains an e-mail address, a phone number and an MD5 hash – a string of numbers and letters used to encrypt and decrypt data.

There’s a link labeled “insurance” that points to the online file-sharing service Megashare, but the file doesn’t appear to have been uploaded to Megashare yet. Presumably, the MD5 hash is for decrypting the file.

“Early next week the group plans to release the keys to unlock that file, which contains the names, pseudonyms, chat logs and methods of the Anonymous hackers,” Greenberg writes.

According to Hubris, the file will identify the individuals responsible for distributed denial-of-service attacks against MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and the Westboro Baptist Church, as well as the more serious network intrusion of security firm HBGary Federal.

Anonymous members and affiliates downplayed the betrayal via Twitter yesterday.

“Let it be known that the group of "anti-Anons" did not get the logs directly, they were made public by http://crowdleaks.org/ ages ago,” wrote Anonymous member “Topiary.”

Topiary was named as one of the Anonymous ringleaders by Metric and A5h3r4.

 

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