Pro-Syrian government hackers defaced the English-language website of international news organization Al Jazeera yesterday (Sept. 4) in retaliation for what they called a "lack of support" for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the troops who back his regime in the country's ongoing civil war.
The hackers, calling themselves Al-Rashedon, replaced Al Jazeera's content with a graphic composed of the Syrian flag and a screenshot of the Al Jazeera website with "HACK!!" stamped on top of it.
The group also splashed their name on the page, displaying "Hacked by Al-Rashedon" across the top.
Beyond their name though, little is known about Al-Rashedon. The hackers, who are assumed to be pro-Assad, released only a brief explanation.
Gizmodo reader Omar provided this translation: "In response to your stand against Syria (Government and the People) and your support to terrorist groups in addition to spreading lies and made up news ... We have hacked your website and this is our retaliation."
Based on the comments below the Gizmodo article, there seems to be some confusion as to which versions of the site were hacked. Some readers said the .net version was still working, while others reported seeing both sites defaced. One reader said he was redirected to Aljazeera.net/portal.
This is not the first (or even second) time an online attack related to the Syrian civil war has occurred.
Last week, Amnesty International was the victim of a misinformation campaign when hackers posted bogus articles to the organization's blog that accused rebels of "abuse" and "crimes against humanity," positions that are decidedly contrary to what Amnesty has said in the past.
In July, one of Al Jazeera's English-language Twitter accounts was hacked, with pro-Assad activists claiming credit for the attack; the hackers posted links to pro-government propaganda.
As of Wednesday morning, aljazeera.com seems to be running normally, but aljazeera.net still seems to be undergoing repairs.