January 16th, 2015
Anonymous isn't doing anything new by hacking Islamic extremist websites. A mysterious figure known as "The Jester" has been at it for five years.
Jester has single-handedly taken down dozens of websites that, he deems, support jihadist propaganda and recruitment efforts. He stopped counting at 179.
To some, he's an Internet superhero. Think Batman, with all the vengeance-laden moral qualms of vigilantism included.
"I realized something needed to be done about online radicalization and 'grooming' of wannabe jihadis, and we didn't have mechanisms to deal with it," Jester said in an interview with CNNMoney. "I decided to start disrupting them."
Little is actually known about Jester, other than his public persona on Twitter as @th3j35t3r: He is unapologetic, unabashedly pro-America and full of military jargon.
Jester first appeared on Twitter on Dec. 19, 2009. Since then, he's used his computer hacking skills to shut down, deface or expose anything he considers threatening to the United States -- especially if it endangers soldiers. If a legitimate company is hosting the site, it usually gets a brief warning before he attacks.
Consider his one-man operation on June 18, 2014. It was a Wednesday evening and out of the blue, Jester sent a public messagevia Twitter to GloboTech Communications, a company in eastern Canada that hosts websites.
"You are hosting fajer.info... which provides material support (inc mobile apps) to #ISIS terrorists," he warned, identifying a specific computer server.
At 9:19 p.m., Jester followed up with his signature threat: "I respectfully urge u to review my last 2 tweets. U should take action, or if you prefer, I can. #30mins #TickTock"
Half an hour later, the jihadist website was knocked offline, and Jester delivered his catchphrase: "TANGO DOWN."
Five years of this has made him something of an Internet celebrity. Fans buy hats and T-shirts sporting his jester face logo or catchphrase. He has racked up nearly 58,000 followers on Twitter. His laptop is on display at the The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
The deadly attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was planned by the group "Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,"brought Jester back out from the shadows.
This past Saturday, he hacked into The Global Islamic Media Front, a jihadist website that provides digital tools and teaches terrorists how to communicate privately. Jester defaced the website by planting two images of Charlie Hebdo covers -- one showing Mohammed (images of whom are extremely offensive to Muslims) and the other showing a Muslim man kissing a magazine cartoonist.
"The aim was to push it out there and give them a black eye," he said. "I'll be ramping up more 'offensive countermeasures' over the coming days/weeks."
Jester wouldn't say what, exactly, he has in mind. But if he sticks to his usual game plan, he'll target smaller jihadist sites. When people shift to the few, well-known jihadist forums, he's "herding them into a smaller space, and therefore making them easier to monitor."
He says he operates without the official approval of any U.S. government agency. But while Jester attacks jihadist sites, he says he quietly steals a bunch of information on visitors and site administrators and secretly passes the data on to his contacts at U.S. intelligence agencies.
So, if he's Batman, who's his Commissioner Gordon?
"Nicely put... sadly, I'll decline to comment," he said.
Jester's origin story: He says he spent five years as a U.S. soldier fighting in Afghanistan. His former job, testing computer servers and beefing up their security, taught him the necessary skills. He has a desk job now in the cybersecurity and intelligence field.
He adopted the name "Jester," because it's a common enough Internet moniker that he thought it could better hide his true identity among "too many false positives."
But make no mistake: His vigilantism is illegal under U.S. laws. And the fact that he hasn't yet been hunted down and arrested says a lot about federal prosecutors and the FBI. Several cybersecurity experts see it as tacit approval.
On one hand, his personal crusade makes him little different from members of Anonymous. Last week, Anonymous blocked a jihadist website in retaliation for the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The difference is that Anonymous is a worldwide, ragtag group driven by various ideologies and rules. Jester sticks to one, patriotic mission: U.S. enemies only. But the definition is up to him. In 2010, he temporarily blocked Wikileaks. In August, he took down the website ofPlayStation hackers Lizard Squad.
"I answer to my conscience, and to God, sir," he said. "That's about it. I think my actions speak loudly enough of my principles and doctrine."
More From CNNMoney.com
January 16th, 2015
*NOTE: LIBERALS TO THE SAUDI'S DO NOT EQUATE TO LIBERALS IN THE US...Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian writer and activist and the creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals. He was arrested In 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through electronic channels and brought to court on several charges including apostasy.
From the Religion of Peace: Second 50-Lash Round Postponed After Doctor Says Wounds From First Session Haven’t Healed
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Saudi authorities on Friday postponed the second round of public flogging of a blogger convicted of insulting Islam after a doctor concluded that his wounds from the first 50 lashes had not yet healed, a leading human rights group said.
Amnesty International said authorities delayed administering the 50 new lashes to Raif Badawi, which were set to take place after midday prayers. The group said Badawi was taken to a prison clinic in the morning for a check-up and that the doctor found that "he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time."
According to the group, the doctor recommended Badawi's flogging be postponed for a week.
Badawi's first public flogging took place last Friday before dozens of people in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The father of three was taken to a public square, his feet and hands bound, and whipped 50 times on his back before being taken back to prison.
A person close to Badawi's case said King Abdullah's Royal Court late last year referred the case to the Supreme Judicial Council, which has the power to refer it to yet another court. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government retribution, said the Council has yet to respond.
The 90 year-old Saudi monarch, who was diagnosed recently with pneumonia, has not been involved in the proceedings.
Badawi was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics and ridiculing the country's morality police on a liberal blog he founded. The Jiddah Criminal Court also ordered he pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals, or about $266,000.
The lashes are to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week. Both the U.S. State Department and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights have called on authorities in Saudi Arabia to cancel the punishment.
Rights groups and activists say his case is part of a wider clampdown on dissent in the kingdom. Criticism of clerics is seen as a red line because of their influential role in supporting government policies. The clerics' ultraconservative Wahhabi interpretation of religion is effectively the law of the land.
The 31-year-old Badawi has been held since mid-2012 and his Free Saudi Liberals website is now closed. He was originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, but after an appeal, the judge stiffened the punishment. Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada.
Badawi's lawyer, Waleed Abul-Khair, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and barred from traveling for another 15 years after he was convicted by an anti-terrorism court of "undermining the regime and officials," "inciting public opinion" and "insulting the judiciary."
"The notion that Raif Badawi must be allowed to heal so that he can suffer this cruel punishment again and again is macabre and outrageous," said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty's deputy director for Middle East and North Africa.
January 16th, 2015
- The capture of the Holy Mosques at Medina and Mecca is a key IS objective
- Security fence includes thermal imaging systems and battlefield radar
- Attack on border post last week said to be first IS attack on kingdom
The Saudi royal family are building a 600-mile barrier to fortify the northern frontier of their kingdom.
The fence and ditch, punctuated with radar surveillance towers, command centres and guard posts, aims to protect the Saudis' oil-rich territory from invasion by the Islamic State insurgency.
Last week a suicide bombing and gun attack which killed two Saudi border guards and their commanding officer was styled by one analyst as the Islamic State's first attack on the kingdom.
No group claimed responsibility for the assault in a remote desert area, but it happened just next to Iraq's Anbar province where Islamic State militants are fighting Iraqi army forces.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud inaugurated the first phase of the border security project in September, soon after Islamic State's Sunni insurgency swept across Iraq.
The multi-layered barrier, which will eventually stretch across the Saudi-Iraq border from Jordan to Kuwait, includes 78 monitoring towers, eight command centres, 10 mobile surveillance vehicles, 32 rapid-response centres, and three rapid intervention squads, reports Janes.com.
Citing a promotional video, the defence industry magazine reported the six-mile-deep barrier consists of a ditch, two fences and a patrol road connecting the watchtowers and guard rooms. The video included footage of thermal imagers and battlefield radar systems that can detect individuals at up to 12 miles away and vehicles at up to 24 miles away.
Islamic State sees Saudi Arabia's links to the West as a betrayal of Islam and has called for 'lone-wolf' attacks against Saudi security forces, the Shi'ite Muslim minority and foreigners.
Saudi forces have joined U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria and mobilised conservative Sunni clergy to describe the ideology of the al Qaeda offshoot as deviant.
Expansion of the Islamic State could turn into an existential struggle for the Saudi regime, which many hardline Islamists see as decadent and corrupt.
A key goal of jihadists is the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to the Two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina.
Relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia have already been deeply strained.
Riyadh has accused former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of creating the conditions for the jihadist insurgency in his country by marginalising its Sunni Arab minority.
Maliki in turn has accused the oil-rich kingdom of supporting 'terrorism' in Shi'ite-majority Iraq.
Three of the four killed in last week's raid were Saudi nationals who local media described as members of the 'deviant group', a phrase authorities use to describe Al Qaeda.
Three more Saudi nationals and four Syrians have since been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the attack.
More from the Daily Mail
- Fury at Miami cops caught using photos of black teens for shooting practice after family of one spots his bullet-ridden mugshot at a gun range - as police chief DEFENDS the officers
- College student who 'murdered her newborn by stuffing it in trash can' gives birth AGAIN but says she doesn't know where her son is - as dead baby is found in nearby dumpster
- More than three quarters of flu vaccines this year have been ineffective
- Obama allots federal employees six weeks of paid leave to care for a new child -- including MEN -- and will ask Congress to give all workers a week of paid sick time every year
January 15th, 2015
January 15th, 2015
Bloomberg Businessweek / By Kathleen Hunter
Freshman Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, who bragged on the campaign trail that she would use her experience castrating hogs to make Washington “squeal,” will deliver the Republican State of the Union response speech, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.
“Senator Ernst brings a unique perspective to the Senate,” McConnell said in a statement on Thursday. “Joni understands that middle-class Americans want Congress to get back to work and that they want Washington to get refocused on their concerns, instead of those of the political class.”
Ernst, 44, is the first woman elected to federal office from Iowa and the Senate’s first female combat veteran. She’s the second woman lawmaker in a row to be picked to deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s annual address to Congress on Jan. 20. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington gave the 2014 response.
Ernst has already begun to build a national profile and expand her base of support beyond the Tea Party wing of Republicans that endorsed her candidacy. She received help in her campaign to defeat Democrat Bruce Braley from potential White House aspirants -- most notably Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who delivered the 2013 Republican State of the Union response.
“It’s a long way from Red Oak, Iowa, to Washington, D.C., but now that I am here, I am excited to get to work in order to craft and implement real solutions as we chart a new path forward for our great nation,” Ernst said in a statement.
Ernst, who succeeds retired five-term Democrat Tom Harkin, gained national attention for a campaign ad in which she bragged that she “grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm.”
“So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork,” she said, adding, “Washington is full of big spenders. Let’s make them squeal.”
The State of the Union response, given each year by the party not in control of the White House, is viewed as a high-risk, potentially high-reward opportunity for whoever is chosen to give it.
Rubio’s address two years ago was generally well received except for an impromptu interruption for a water break during which Rubio, in front of the camera, gulped from a Poland Spring water bottle. That prompted a flurry of comments on Twitter, including one from Rubio poking fun at himself by posting a picture of the bottle.
Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s 2011 State of the Union response helped elevate his profile the year before presidential nominee Mitt Romney chose him as his running mate. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s 2009 performance was panned and seen as hampering his national political aspirations.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at email@example.com Justin Blum