One can’t help but note how right at the start of a new year, the terror threat is being raised across the board and the fear factor continuously fed and amplified by a mixture of state announcements, media coverage and – to whatever extent – false alarms.
Suspicious minds might suspect a coordinated plan of fear amplification is being conducted, particularly to begin this new year on a note of high tension. Which doesn’t bode well for 2015, frankly. Not that 2014 was a good year on any social, political, human or cultural level; but it doesn’t look like anything is going to get any better any time soon either.
For one thing, the alleged ISIS or ISIS-inspired hacking of United States Central Command’s social media accounts appears designed to enhance fear and anxiety in American society on one hand, while also on the other hand serve as justification for the intelligence communities’ well-known push for greater surveillance powers at the expense of citizens’ privacy. In the suitably dramatic event, among other things the cyber attackers modified Cent-Com’s header and replaced it with their own image, which included the image of a typical ISIS militant and the term “CyberCaliphate.”
Their taunting, overly super-villain esque message (you’re almost just waiting for “Hail Hydra”) is a little suspect and overdone; “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate under the auspices of ISIS continues its CyberJihad. While the US and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you. You’ll see no mercy infidels. ISIS is already here, we are in your PCs, in each military base. With Allah’s permission we are in CENTCOM now…”
There’s a few things that don’t ring true about both the statement and the alleged ‘cyber attack’ in general. Islamic State fighters are engaged in warfare in Iraq and Syria, with access to vast weaponry; they’re very busy terrorists, one would imagine. A cyber-attack of this kind seems a little pointless for them – these are guys that control a vast territory (of land ; never mind cyber-space) and who conduct mass killings with ease; cyber crimes would be a trivial distraction for an organisation like theirs that is engaged in a bid for territorial control.
Another point is that Islamic State doesn’t tend to refer to itself as ‘ISIS’; they refer to themselves as ‘Islamic State’ or more commonly as ‘ISIL‘. ‘ISIS’ is the more evocative name that Western-based commentators or journalists use to refer to them. It’s possible that the hack was carried out by some sort of technically adept hacker or hack-tivist with ISIS or jihadist sympathies, which is the suggestion being made by some, but it’s just as possible that this is yet another false-flag scare story staged to lend support to the mass surveillence push occurring in several countries right now. It comes a few weeks after the alleged North Korean cyber-hack of Sony Pictures, which itself is likely to have been a staged incident according to a number of sources.
This recent business of overtly insulting or provoking foreign bogeymen – specifically North Korea in the case of The Interview and the Muslim world in the case of Charlie Hebdo – and framing it in terms of freedom of expression is curious in itself; in both instances, the incidents have occurred amid known government or intelligence-community pushes for new, enhanced surveillance powers and policies. All of these rising terror threats and incidents can easily be perceived within that context.
- France is known to have been pushing for more on-line surveillance both before and (especially) after the Paris attacks.
- In the US it only took hours for Republican senators to begin using the Charlie Hebdo attack to call for strengthening the National Security Administration’s (NSA) intelligence programs.
- While the British government wants to legally ban all private and public encryption it can’t easily crack. David Cameron is leading the push for reforms that are part of new legislation to force telecommunications operators and Internet service providers to store more data on people’s online activities, including messages on social networks.
This concerted push to enhance governments’ abilities to monitor our private data and communications is an agenda that seems always to be there in the background, though it needs events like the Paris attacks or this alleged ISIS cyber-attack to justify its activities and proposals. 1984, as many note, isn’t ‘coming’, it’s already here. Edward Snowden and others have already exposed the extent and nature of the NSA’s hugely excessive surveillance operations, which has slowed the progress of the broader surveillance agenda due to that agenda being exposed to so much public attention; but it hasn’t stopped it. In terms of the ‘Cyber-Caliphate’, various sources, are citing it as yet another staged pantomime and exercise in fear-manipulation; which is certainly what it looks and smells like.
This agenda, I’m convinced, goes beyond simply monitoring for the sake of stopping terrorist activity or other criminality, but in the long-term may be ultimately about thought policing ; the situation we may end up in is one in which security, intelligence and law-enforcement communities have the ability (and legal right) to act against individuals merely for mentioning certain words, expressing certain thoughts and ideas, in on-line platforms and forums.
This might range from simple social media activity to more substantial activity like anti-establishment blogging and much of the broader realm of alternative media and independent journalism. Alternative media is a palpable threat to the corporate-controlled media in the struggle for information control and is seriously undermining the mainstream agenda when it comes to things like Syria, Islamic State militants, false-flag events, banking conspiracies and much more. Sooner or later there is going to be a push to seriously quash or limit the capabilities of the alternative media in being able to influence people’s thinking and levels of awareness or its capacity for exposing state crimes and conspiracies. When that happens, any false narratives of state or establishment media are going to go largely unchallenged and will be the sole source of information for most citizens.
In terms of this ISIS cyber-attack, I’m assuming, but cannot confirm, that there was also a bit about how “you puny Americans shall never find our Fortress of Super Evil or discover the dark secrets of our Doomsday Device that was constructed by our Dark Wizard Goblin.” Honestly, at least when Osama bin Laden was around there was some degree of vague believability to the pantomime.
Which is not to say, by the way, that Islamic State isn’t a real, barbarous, heinous threat; but a threat to who? It’s Arabs, Muslims, old-world Christians and other Middle-Eastern populations that have paid the grave price for Islamic State’s existence and its foreign-funded rise; the numbers of Syrian and Iraqi dead, displaced or persecuted are on the kind of Biblical scale most American citizens would be incapable of even conceiving of. The only Americans thus far to have been directly harmed by ISIL are the poor, unfortunate journalists last year (and a number of theorists on-line even question the reality of those murders; though I personally choose not to go down that road).
Whether ISIL or ISIS actually represent any real threat to Americans on American soil is questionable; if there is such a threat, then given that the group was almost certainly funded by American agencies at its inception, it brings to mind the late Bill Hicks’ (video above) satirical take on the original Iraq War.