The apparent militant Islamist Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris is believed to be the deadliest in France since 1961, when 28 people were killed in a train bombing by right-wingers. In this recent incident, 12 people, including eight journalists were murdered at the Paris office of the French satirical magazine.
Following the attack, the “hacktivist” group Anonymous released a video and a statement condemning the terrorists. In their message, Anonymous introduced itself as the “francophone Op Charlie Hebdo.” In French they wrote, “We can not fall to the ground. It is our duty to react.”
The group pledged to fight for the “inviolate and sacred right to express opinions in any way.” They stated that those who opposed freedom of expression will witness “a massive frontal assault from us, because the struggle for the defense of these freedoms is the foundation of our movement.”
Anonymous also released a video in which the spokesperson speaks in French with a digitally altered voice. Their message included as threats to close accounts on social networks linked to terrorists, and the bold statement, “We are declaring war against you, the terrorists.”
Anonymous is an unstructured group of hackers and internet geniuses that considers itself to be working for freedom of censorship and other radical social causes. They are not a single group but several groups and individuals who act under the singular name.
The group has publicly reacted and taken action in response to several conflicts worldwide, including in Israel, the USA and now Paris. When addressing the public, the Anonymous spokespeople typically wear Guy Fawkes masks, referencing the British Catholic by that name who helped orchestrate an unsuccessful plot to overthrow King James I, and was sentenced to death.
The Anonymous group uses the tagline: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” It is uncertain what effects their recent threats will have, but the group’s members certainly have the knowledge to carry out cyber attacks, and all potentially involved parties would be well-advised to pay attention.