In the wake of Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris, online ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous appears to be preparing to turn its digital tools against the Islamic state.
In an online post purporting to be from the group, a narrator says Anonymous is mobilizing against the militant organization.
“To defend our values and our freedom, we’re tracking down members of the terrorist group responsible for these attacks. We will not give up, we will not forgive, and we will do all that’s necessary to end their actions. “
WATCH: Hacker group Anonymous responds to Paris attacks:
In the video, the groups says it had already set its sights on extremists following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and is now redoubling its efforts.
“We had already expressed our intent to neutralize anyone that would attack our freedom. We’ll be doing the same now.”
The group says it will be launching a “total mobilization” and is promoting the effort under the moniker “Operation Paris #OpParis.”
What can Anonymous do?
The question of course, is how much damage can Anonymous do?
Montreal based scholar Gabriella Coleman, author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy says the group will likely be limited to a ‘soft’ attack on ISIS’s social mediapresence.
“Locating Twitter accounts that are either doing recruitment or supporting terrorism and reporting these to Twitter. They’ve also targeted recruitment websites and taken those down. And finally, they also infiltrate Jihadi forums as well to gather intelligence, which is at times fed back to the United States.”
Coleman says she thinks Anonymous can slow ISIS down, but there will be a limit to how much damage they can do.
“ISIS is just too complex and full blown a phenomenon that any online pushback, whether it comes from Anonymous, or the US government is not going to do anything to eliminate them.”
Coleman says at the end of the day, the Islamic State’s offline channels are where it’s real power are.
She says Anonymous might be able to affect its ability to create propaganda and recruit new troops. But she says taking down ISIS sites will likely be a game of “whack-a-mole,” with them eventually popping up again.