Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Syrian Electronic Army: Background, Operations, Gov't Affiliations

The Syrian Electronic Army (originally called Syrian Electronic Soldiers) was created in May 2011 by the Syrian Computer Society who registered the domain Syria-es.com and .org with Network Solutions. 

The Syrian Computer Society was founded in 1989 by Bassel al-Assad, the son of then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Later, his brother Bashar took over the SCS presidency and Bashar later become the current President of Syria. The SCS is affiliated with the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Higher Education. Its original goal was to "introduce information technology to all the economic sectors in Syria".

The following domains are all associated with the Syrian Electronic Army and all point to IP address 213.178.227.152, which is hosted at the Syrian Computer Society's ISP (SCS-net) located in Damascus, Syria:
  • mail.syrian-es.com
  • mail.syrian-es.net
  • mail.syrian-es.org
  • syrian-es.com
  • syrian-es.net
  • syrian-es.org
  • syrianelectronicarmy.com
  • www.syrian-es.com
  • www.syrian-es.org
The Syrian government also uses SCS-net hosting for its Ministry of Defense (mod.gov.sy) at IP address: 213.178.225.248. The website presently shows as under construction. This may be significant because there are at least nine ISPs operating in Syria which offer hosting options for the Syrian Electronic Army, yet they continue to use the same service which hosts the Ministry of Defense and other government websites.

The domain name syrianelectronicarmy.com was recently created (Feb 24, 2013) and remains active. They promote themselves via social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube:
  • https://twitter.com/SEA_Official7
  • https://www.facebook.com/SEA.205
  • http://www.youtube.com/user/syrianes1
Other than being the registration agent for the domain name Syrian-es.com, as well as providing hosting services for SEA websites, neither the Syrian Computer Society nor anyone in the Syrian government has claimed an official capacity for the Syrian Electronic Army however President Assad referred to them in a speech on June 20, 2011 when he mentioned the "electronic army" while praising Syria's actual Army:
The army consists of the brothers of every Syrian citizen, and the army always stands for honour and dignity. Young people have an important role to play at this stage, because they have proven themselves to be an active power. There is the electronic army which has been a real army in virtual reality.
According to the SEA website, their objective is to fight Arab and Western media who are "fabricating the truth about what is happening in Syria". Their operations have included attacks against social media outlets for:
  • Associated Press
  • 60 Minutes
  • 48 Hours
  • CBS Denver
  • ENERGY 103.7 San Diego
  • NPR
  • BBC
  • Al Jazeera
  • Agence France-Presse (AFP)
  • Reuters
  • Haaretz
They've also leaked documents from the following organizations:
  • Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Qatar Armed Forces
  • Qatar Amiri Diwan
  • League of Arab States
Syria, like Iran, Israel, Estonia, China, Russia, and other countries, is leveraging the talent, patriotism, and enthusiasm of its Internet-savvy youth to act as a force multiplier in its military and geopolitical operations at almost zero cost and very little risk.

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