Center for Strategic Communication

by Chris Lundry

Indonesian Islamist extremist supporters ar Rahmah posted a story today (2-13) on their website and Facebook page about the hacker group Anonymous’ plans for a cyber-attack on Israel. The story (here) links to the Anonymous YouTube video announcing their plans.

While ar Rahmah undoubtedly supports the effort, the article quotes the video as a declaration of a “Crusade” (perang salib) against Israel. The Crusade narrative is the second most frequently invoked among Islamist extremists to describe western actions in Muslim lands, so it is somewhat surprising to see ar Rahmah’s emphasis of the term (although the Crusades targeted Jews as well as Muslims). The most frequently invoked narrative is Nakba (“catastrophe”), which refers to Palestine.

In this case, it appears that for ar Rahmah, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In the video, Anonymous criticizes Israel for its perceived hypocrisy, claiming to be democratic while “carelessly trampling the liberties of the masses.” While Islamist extremists have no pretensions to support democracy – rule by anything other than clerically mandated sharia is forbidden in their eyes – they have no problems jumping on the criticism of Israel if that’s one of Anonymous’s points. Anonymous’ recent cyber-attacks on the CIA and state of Alabama likely bolsters ar Rahmah’s opinion of the group.

On Facebook, ar Rahmah’s posting of the story had 135 “likes,” 14 “shares,” and eight comments as of Monday afternoon (CST). This isn’t a lot of reaction to the story, but that’s understandable due to ar Rahmah’s limited appeal to Indonesian Muslims. The original YouTube video posted by Anonymous, however, has over 120,000 views and counting, and over 2000 likes and 1000 dislikes. I perused some of the over 7000 comments, and found most of them to be anti-Semitic and anti-Israel ranting, conspiracy theorizing, and some in defense of Israel or against the bigotry.

I suppose a common hatred of Israel and Jews makes for some strange bedfellows, and I shouldn’t find it surprising that groups such as ar Rahmah support this effort by Anonymous. I wonder, however, if and when Anonymous will turn its sights toward Islamist extremists, who have become increasingly sophisticated in their abilities to spread their agenda via the internet. Perhaps that’s just a matter of time.