Following the total shutdown of Internet connections in Syria Thursday -- believed to have been carried out by Bashar al-Assad's government -- Anonymous has declared cyber-war with the regime.
Fresh from a campaign of thousands of hacks last week against Israeli government-related websites in retaliation for the military assault on Gaza, the hacker collective put out a release late Thursday vowing to take down "web assets belonging to the Assad regime" and provide communication avenues for Syrians in the Internet blackout.
The release also claims to have investigated and concluded that the ongoing Internet and mobile connection cut-off was perpetrated by the government:
Anonymous has done an exhaustive analysis of the Internet shut-down in Syria and we have concluded that the Syrian regime has physically severed the fiber-optic and coaxial cables coming into Syria. Essentially, they have physically "pulled the plug out of the wall". As we discovered in Egypt, where the dictator Mubarak did something similar - this is not damage that can be easily or quickly repaired.
Fortunately, Anonymous has been working with Syrian activists for well over a year in anticipation of this moment. We produced and disseminated the Syrian Care Package - and there are emergency independent media centers already set up in every city of Syria. Activists and independent journalists in Syria will be able to utilize these media centers to get news and media out of Syria, and Anonymous will assist in
propagating that media to the world. Anonymous will keep open the lines of telecommunication with the free Syrian people.
The communiqué goes on to detail a plan of retaliation against Assad:
Beginning at 9:00 PM ET USA [on Thursday] Anonymous will begin removing from the Internet all web assets belonging to the Assad regime that are NOT hosted in Syria. We will begin with the websites and servers belonging to ALL Syrian Embassies abroad, which we will begin systematically removing from the Internet tonight.
However, as of Friday morning, the website named in Anonymous' release as its first target -- that of the Syrian Embassy in China -- was still live and functioning and there are currently no reports of Syria government-related sites being hacked.