By ‘Sola Fagorusi
Violence has no tribe; it does not even have a national identity. Like several people across the world, I watched the terror that unfolded in France last week. The commentary in the common room was in French, a limitation of the francophone country I was in, but I knew from the images that France had been scarred. I watched my French colleagues; three of them, ruminate quietly about what was happening back in their country. 129 people were dead and hundreds had been injured following the carnage. Shortly after this, Nigeria’s Boko Haram killing also found the spotlight in the news following bombings in two cities in northern Nigeria. Mali was next with the hostage-taking situation at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako. ISIS is the true heart of darkness.
The Paris carnage birthed huge conversation in the social media space. It will be impossible for the world to shake off the loss that came with the suicide bombings and killings. For those who thought ISIS was already getting weakened, the attack proved otherwise. What ISIS has also further helped in doing is to pitch true adherents of the Islamic faith against others given their poor interpretation of Islam. It will take a huge dose of humanity to navigate through the difficult maze of the various entanglements between religion and ideology.
Given ISIS’ very sophisticated mode of operation, the news that renowned hacktivist group, Anonymous has decided to stand with citizens of the world. Called #OpParis, Anonymous claims it has taken down over 5000 propaganda video and 101,000 twitter accounts that has some form of relationship with ISIS; ac For these techies, this is the only trench they can get into in the world’s guerilla warfare against ISIS. Before then, the group had had previous battles with ISIS by reportedly shutting down 149 websites of the group. Maybe there is a chance that Anonymous can help support in stopping ISIS in its fearful track. ISIS response to #OpParis and offer of technical support to their supporters is indicative of the group’s fear of the lethal possibility Anonymous is capable of. ISIS went a step further to offer guidelines to its supporters and followers. Part of the guidelines read – Don’t open any links unless sure of the source; change Internet Protocol addresses constantly; Do not talk to people you do not know on Telegram; Do not talk to people on Twitter direct messaging; Do not make the same email as your username on Twitter. How this affects organized global effort by western nations on the group also comes to mind. But Anonymous had made a statement and it is loud in the Internet community. “Hello, citizens of the world. We are Anonymous. It is time to realize that social media is a solid platform for ISIS’s communication as well as neutering their ideas of terror amongst youth. However, at the same time, social media has proved it is an advanced weapon.
There are divided opinions as to the work being done by Anonymous, some people have argued that the work of the hackers’ group will drive ISIS further underground and make the work of organised intelligence gathering by security agencies across the world tougher. Their strategy has been to mine data accessible in public forum and other platforms like telegram that ISIS has preference for. With Anonymous’ intrusion into this space, it is not unlikely that ISIS will alter its online habits and morph new strategies that are evasive.
The great win will however come if Anonymous in partnership with other anti-ISIS efforts can disorganize and ultimately shut down ISIS recruitment mechanism that seems to be adept at luring young people from different demography into its radical fold. The recruitment arm seems after all to be the most potent force of the body that has mastered this act through the use of various e-channels. Emails, Skype calls, Telegram app, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are some of the preferred outlet of this group. It is a well thought out strategy of this group. Given the population of users on these various platforms, it is not unlikely that if they continue to have access to recruit people through these means, they will continue to be successful. With about 3.2 billion internet users across the world, 4.3 billion email users, 1.55 billion people on Facebook, 1.1 billion users on YouTube and 320 million Twitter users; ISIS seems to have it well thought out on the most clandestine means to swell its ranks.
Government agencies, Anonymous and other hackers’ networks may need to agree for once in the interest of humanity. Anonymous’ past may stand in the way given past hacks on governments and private firms; but this may need to be overlooked in the interest of the common good. It has also been requested of Anonymous to expose the financing of ISIS and other affiliations they may be having. Will Anonymous matchbox stroke be able to light enough fire to burn ISIS into ashes? The days ahead will tell.
Sola Fagorusi is a social entrepreneur and a prized freelance writer with a bias for youth and rural development. He started off as a youth staff with Action Health Incorporated in 2001. The Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife alumnus currently manages the programmes ofOneLife Initiative, Nigeria. ‘Sola is a DESPLAY Africa (Africa’s foremost and most consistent annual youth democracy academy) fellow and has been on its faculty since 2011. Keenly interested in governance and pan-Africanism, he volunteers as online editor of YouthHub Africa; a cyber-community for young Africans involved in social change. He believes in the efficacy of oratory and writing as tools to drive developmental engagements. As a freelance writer, he spares time to pen thoughts on contemporary societal issues and is a weekly columnist with Nigeria’s most read daily ? Punch Newspaper. His training and capacity cuts across democracy and governance, leadership, micro-enterprise, ICT4D, SRH, value chains, development communication and policy issues. He tweets @SolaFagro and blogs at www.kadunaboy.com
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