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North African Group Targets Thai Websites in Islamist Cyber Attack

By BenarNews Staff
2015-08-24
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A picture shows computer screens at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, April 9, 2015.
A picture shows computer screens at French television network TV5Monde headquarters in Paris, after TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, April 9, 2015.
AFP

Updated at 3:51 p.m. ET on 2015-08-26

A Tunisian group over the weekend and Monday posted jihadist messages and images of persecuted Rohingya Muslims, as it launched a cyber attack on six public websites in Thailand, including those of four provincial governments, according to news reports.

The online attacks, mounted by a group calling itself “Fallag Gassrini and Dr. Lamouchi” – but which is also known as the Fallaga Team – began Sunday evening (local time) and spilled into Monday, news outlets reported.

“The hacker just posted materials on our page, but they didn’t mess with our other contents,” Bamrung Reunbanterng, chief technician for Lamphun province, whose website was among those targeted in the attack, told BenarNews on Tuesday.

“We are trying to recover it,” Bamrung added.

By early Wednesday morning (local time), Lamphun’s website was back up and running normally.

Along with Lamphun province, the hackers targeted Lamlukka Hospital in Pathum Thani province and the printing house of Mahasarakham University, starting on Sunday night, according to the Prachatai news website.

On Monday morning, sites operated by the governments of three more provinces – Tak, Sing Buri and Sa Kaeo – all went blank, Prachatai reported.

As of Wednesday morning (local time), the websites of the Sing Buri provincial government and university printing house were the only two of the four targeted sites that were still not accessible online.

Also on Wednesday, The Nation newspaper in Thailand quoted National Security Council Secretary-General Anusit Kunakorn as saying that it would investigate the Tunisian huckster group’s claim that it had carried out the cyber attack.

However, a Prachatai report on Wednesday quoted the Thai Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCERT) as saying that the “Fallaga Group” had carried out as many as 106 cyber attacks against Thai website, which dated back to May. ThaiCERT is an agency within the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

‘Just for the Muslims of Burma’

According to the Bangkok Post, photos of Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Muslim children victimized in bombings were posted on all six websites during this week's attack.

The infiltrators claimed they had launched the attack “just for the Muslims in Burma,” according to Prachatai.

The hackers also left messages including “You have to give respect to our people” and “We, the Fallaga team, are Muslims,” the Post reported.

Thailand is a transit country for Rohingya Muslims who try to flee to Malaysia from Myanmar. In May, Thailand turned away boatloads of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants who were trying to land on local shores illegally.

Thai authorities enforced the maritime blockade as they cracked down on illegal immigration, following the discovery of graves in the southern jungle thought to contain the remains of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants and victims of human trafficking.

The Bangkok Post quoted an official at the Ministry of Information and Technology Communication as saying that the hacking was “conducted simultaneously worldwide, using the Linux command line.”

At press time, however, there were no reports of cyber attacks launched by the same group since Sunday in any other countries.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency quoted a spokesman for the ministry as saying that the hackers had not accessed governmental data while hacking into the sites.

And, according to Reuters, police did not believe that the cyber attack was connected to last week’s bombing at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok that killed 20 people and injured 125.

Fallaga who?

Fallaga Team is a Tunisian Islamist hacker group that has targeted French, Tunisian and Israeli websites in previous attacks, according to the Cyber & Jihad Lab (CJL), a website that monitors jihadist groups that launch cyber attacks.

Fallaga Team has thousands of followers on its social media sites, according to a profile of the group on the CJL website.

“According to a public statement by one of its members posted on Facebook, Fallaga is an Islamist group specifically opposed to secularism and atheism, and while it claims to not be an extension of the Islamic State […], its Facebook page states that it shares similar religious and political ideals,” CJL said.

“Fallaga participated in #OpCharlieHebdo on Twitter, and explicitly supports the recent attacks in Paris,” it said, referring to the January 2015 massacre by suspected Islamists at the offices of the satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo.

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