Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is a loosely associated group of hacktivists. In its early concept, Anonymous was originally created to provide scrutiny to the Church of Scientology, a cult known for demonizing its critics in the public view. They used the name “Anonymous” so that the cult could not track them down as easily.
But in more recent times, they’ve gotten more serious. They’ve threatened to expose the identities of major heads of the KKK, deleting their hate websites and message boards.
Now, they’ve claimed to have deleted over 5,500 Twitter accounts linked to ISIS while also leaking personal information about ISIS individuals (#OPparis).
The following is an excerpt from a statement issued via YouTube announcing Operation Paris and the war on ISIS:
Hello citizens of the world.
We are anonymous.
The aftermath of Friday, November 13, 2015.
France is shocked by the events caused by terrorism in the capital.
We first wish to express our sorrow and our solidarity with the victims, the injured, and their families.
To defend our values and our freedom, we’re tracking down members of the terrorist group responsible these attacks, we will not give up, we will not forgive, and we’ll do all that is necessary to end their actions.
During the attacks of Charlie Hebdo, we had already expressed our determination to neutralize anyone who would attack our freedom.
We’ll be doing the same now, because of the recent attacks.
Expect a total mobilization on our part.
We are anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Speaking with a BBC reporter, an Anonymous hacktivist involved with Operation Paris explained their goals.
Our main goal in this operation is to identify the perpetrators of the Paris terror attacks and all terrorist organisations linked to them, acquire intel to dig deep into the roots of their manpower, disable their propaganda and stop their reach on social media, release their information to the public, and flag down any threat to mankind.
It’s important to remember that Anonymous is not an organized group. There is no one standing organization of Anonymous. They are a headless monster; fluid. There is not one report, one spokesman, one revealing statement. They are hivemind, a collection of people, a pool of online civil disobedience.
Bottom line: Anything Anonymous can do to hurt, humiliate, or otherwise disrupt the online activities of the Islamic State is a good thing.