The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters, who claimed credit for multiple DDoS attacks on American financial institutions like Bank of American and Suntrust, Inc., still steadfastly deny they were working for the Iranian government. Wired directs us to this interview with the hackers conducted in early November by researchers Flashpoint Global Partners, a security research firm.
The hackers always claimed in various Pastebin posts that their “Operation Ababil” was not motivated by a need to hurt the United States so much as they wanted to express outrage over the anti-Muslim film, Innocence of Muslims.
In their interview with Flashpoint, the hackers repeated the same sentiment, stating that they targeted banks to do “something proportional to what has happened against us. In the system where… religion and sacred things are not honorable, and only material, money and finance have value, this seems a suitable and effective… act[ion] and can influence governors and decision makers.”
Asked to respond to U.S. claims they were affiliated with Iran’s military, al-Qassam said they weren’t dependent on any government, just protesting “the insulting movie.”
“But there are some ones,” al-Qassam told Flashpoint, “who want to portray this action as political. So they are deflecting the issue to the side of their political leanings.”
The Cyber Fighters may be telling the truth, but as Wired‘s Noah Schachtman noted, “some security researchers believed the attacks to be so sophisticated, they could’ve only been pulled off with government help.”
For the time being it appears the Cyber Fighters have gone to ground and put their Operation Ababil on pause, as they haven’t posted any claims of action on their Pastebin page for just over a month. We may not know what they’re up to until the next time someone tries to check their balance or load their bank’s website and gets only error messages in return.