The Qassam Cyber Fighters Return, Warning of Phase 2 in ‘Operation Ababil’ [Updated]

The Cyber Fighters, like Anonymous, are basically saying, 'Expect us.'

Bank of America, one of the victims of Operation Ababil (Screengrab)
Bank of America, one of the victims of Operation Ababil (Screengrab)

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters published a new message on their Pastebin profile late Monday, warning of a new round of cyber attacks against U.S. financial institutions, beginning this week.

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In their lengthy post, titled “Phase 2 Operation Ababil,” the Qassam Cyber Fighters announced that they plan to attack websites owned by J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America (BAC), U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services and SunTrust Banks.

Previous cyber attacks for which the ideologically-motivated group claimed credit took some bank sites down for more than 24 hours and affected website functions for days afterwards. The Cyber Fighters say that in Phase 2, “the wideness and the number of attacks will increase explicitly; and offenders and subsequently their governmental supporters will not be able to imagine and forecast the widespread and greatness of these attacks.”

U.S. officials have said they believe the attacks are state-sponsored by Iran, but the cyber attackers still insist they are not working for any government. Though they mention events since their previous attacks such as Israel’s efforts against Hamas, the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters still say their main reason for renewed cyber attacks is the presence of Innocence of Muslims on the Internet. Google has refused to removed the anti-Islamic video from the Internet in nations where it is not against the law.

Fox Business notes one of the reasons security researchers and U.S. officials have said they believe the al-Qassam Cyber Fighters are more organized and well-funded than an ad-hoc group of cyber terrorists is because they use such a sophisticated botnet of compromised web servers. The Cyber Fighters’ zombie army of bots sidesteps bandwidth limits and focuses more power against their targets than attacks from home computers.

Previous banks affected by al-Qassam’s efforts included Wells Fargo, Bank of America and the New York Stock Exchange.

Update: It looks like the Cyber Fighters didn’t waste any time. As of 1:45 p.m. ET Tuesday, many Bank of America customers were reporting problems accessing the bank’s website.

The Qassam Cyber Fighters Return, Warning of Phase 2 in ‘Operation Ababil’ [Updated]