Cyber war brings down influential Shiite Web sites

ONI is currently monitoring a cyber war waged by a group of Sunni Muslims who managed to hack significant Shiite and Iranian Web sites, the number of which has reached 300, according to the Iranian Fars News Agency. The agency reported that the hacking group is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that it includes 250 IT experts who have spent over $300 million to hack the main server of Shiite sites belonging to the International Institute of Al-ol-Beit.

ONI found that an entity called Group XP has hacked and erased the content of Shiite Web sites, including that of the influential Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani of Iraq. The group posted a message in al-Sistani’s Web site in Arabic that claims responsibility for the hacking and said it did it because the site promotes pervert sexual fatwas
{religious verdict) and "poisonous of misguidance and deviation”. The statement warned that the punishment against these Web sites is not a matter of a day or two, which suggests that the cyber war will continue.

The statement refers to a fatwa by al-Sistani in which he allegedly permitted anal sex between a man and his wife if she agrees to it. Interestingly, the hackers posted a link to a youtube video clip of the American comedian Bill Maher making fun of the verdict, which suggests that the Sunni group is upset that al-Sistani’s fatwa gave a chance to comedians to ridicule Islam.

The group calls al-Sistani the “sextani” and describes his fatwa as “pervert”.

The group also says that hacking the Shiite Web site comes after it had successfully hacked anti Islamic Christian Web sites as well as Arabic sex Web sites that are run by Arab Christians based in Israel. The group claims that it came to this conclusion after it investigated the phone numbers and IP addresses of those behind the sites.

The group posted a Yahoo email address that includes the words Tora Bora, al-Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan.

The same message appeared in other hacked Web sites including that of Al-ol-Beit Global Center for Information.

ONI cannot conclusively determine the source of the hacking; however, it found out that the logo of the hacking group which was placed in these Web sites is hosted by the UAE forum, which offers free file sharing service for Internet users.

This wave of hacking comes a few days after the prominent Sunni Muslim scholar Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi called the Sunni Muslims to stand up to the Shiite’s attempts to “invade” the Sunni societies, which he reiterated September 18, 2008.