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Under Attack Part Six: The Stratfor Files

In what has to be one of the more spectacularly craptastic court decisions in recent history, last week the UK’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court upheld an outstanding warrant for Julian Assange which stemmed from a 2010 Swedish investigation that has since been closed.  Despite public outcry, two UN rulings in favor of Assange’s freedom, and the fact that it recently came to light that the UK encouraged Sweden to keep the investigation open despite the Swedish prosecutor’s desire to close it in 2012, it appears that the UK is still taking its marching orders from Washington regardless of the implications.  Of course there’s no evidence (yet) showing that the US directly interfered in the court case and I could be astrosurfing better than an Intercept journalist high on a government prescription of shill-lax.  But unlike Micah Lee, this story has some worthwhile evidence to back up its claim including the fact that the magistrate who denied Julian Assange his freedom and the ability to receive adequate health care last week is none other than Baroness Emma Arbuthnot, wife of Lord James Arbuthnot— the former chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee.

Journalist Randy Credico also pointed out that James Arbuthnot and his cronies acquired a massive defense contract with the UK government through a little known group called SC Strategy which is headed up by none other than the former Chief of M16, Sir John McLeod Scarlett, and the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Alexander Carlile.  In 2015, The Guardian reported that the elusive firm’s only known client at the time was Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund which perhaps isn’t all that surprising since that the Financial Times reported last year that Qatar, via the wealth fund, bought up a piece of Heathrow airport, the Shard skyscraper, a “portion” of the Canary Wharf financial district, and Harrods department stores.  Apparently Qatar also bailed out Barclays bank because the only thing more comforting than one of the largest terrorist hotspots in the world investing about forty billion euros in your country is knowing that your country’s former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is in bed with them.

The point in all of this again is that the Court’s decision is just one more glaring example of how the United States has been attacking Assange and his freedom for over eight years and we can’t even rely on the UK justice system to do the right thing.  In the following post I’ll be revisiting more of the government’s attempts at bringing Assange into US custody and how the FBI inadvertently revealed that the United States government does indeed has a sealed indictment against him.  I highly recommend that you first read my previous post, “Under Attack Part Five: The Enemy Within,” for background information on Hector Xavier Monsegur, LulzSec, and Siggi Thordarson.

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#ANTISEC

“Sabu”

On June 19, 2011, Hector Xavier Monsegur aka “Sabu,” announced to his Twitter followers the start of the “biggest unified operation amongst hackers in history.”  He called it “Operation Anti-Sec.”  The announcement came only days after former WikiLeaks volunteer and FBI informant “Siggi” Thordarson secretly recorded and uploaded a video of Julian Assange and Sarah Harrison to LulzSec and less than two weeks after Sabu himself had turned FBI snitch.  With the new operation obviously and covertly under the control of the US government, Sabu promulgated working under the “#AntiSec flag” and shamelessly promoted an agenda that included targeting government sites, banks, and other “high-ranking establishments.”  The group released both a video and press release encouraging hackers to steal and leak classified government information and in what became yet another questionable operation run by the FBI to entrap not only hackers but Julian Assange and to spy on foreign countries, AntiSec advocated the “open fire on any government agency that crosses our path.”

According to Wikipedia, members involved in AntiSec included former LulzSec members, Anonymous, and “others inspired by the announcement of the operation,” but keep in mind that terms like “Anonymous” are fairly broad in scope; it would be ridiculous to believe that anyone at any given time was fully aware of everyone working under the “#Antisec flag.”  It was, however, reported and court documents show that the US government believed that Jeremy Hammond, a hacktivist who purportedly became inspired by Anonymous after they launched Operation Avenge Assange in retaliation for the 2010 banking blockade against WikiLeaks, was also an alleged member.

After a fifty-day hacking spree under Sabu’s leadership, LulzSec packed up their things and retired at the end of June, 2011 and AntiSec more or less picked up where they left off.  By the summer’s end the group had hacked Arizona law enforcement, Booz Allen Hamilton, NATO, and FBI contractor, Mantech but what put AntiSec on the mainstream map and both Jeremy Hammond and activist Barrett Brown in prison was the exposure of Stratfor and the shadowy world of intelligence companies.

 

THE HACK

Jeremy Hammond

It all started on December 4, 2011, when “Hyrriiya,” a hacker known for allegedly attacking the Syrian government, disclosed to Sabu via online chat that he had compromised Stratfor’s systems.  Sabu knew that the hack would be favorable for the F.B.I—er, AntiSec so he asked Hyrriiya to privately send him more details and then he reached out to Jeremy Hammond to plan the attack.  Hyrriiya delivered Stratfor’s vulnerabilities to AntiSec two days later in an online chat and Jeremy Hammond went to work.  A little more than a week later he struck gold.  He not only breached Stratfor’s internal system, he was able to infiltrate the mail server that contained over five million emails.  Not only that, Stratfor had carelessly failed to encrypt their customers credit card numbers, the link to which was allegedly posted in an IRC chat by activist Barrett Brown.

Chat logs reveal that Sabu contemplated sending the Stratfor emails to WikiLeaks by mid-December and that he boasted to other hackers about his relationship with Julian Assange.  For instance, Sabu told “sup_g” (allegedly Jeremy Hammond) that he and another LulzSec member, Kayla, had hacked Iceland for Assange and that the “nigga [Assange] loves us” but in reality that never happened.  You may recall in my previous post that when WikiLeaks traitor Siggi Thordarson secretly uploaded that video of Assange to LulzSec he also asked them to hack Iceland’s government sites—but that request came from Siggi, a troubled young kid, not at the behest of Assange.  Additionally, LulzSec never followed through on Siggi’s request, or if they did it was never publicly disclosed.  Instead, the FBI showed up in Iceland unannounced and uninvited in an effort to set Assange up.  The covert operation resulted in the Icelandic government literally kicking them out of the country.

Sabu also tried to downplay WikiLeaks’ trustworthiness by stating that their operations were “full of spying,” counter-spying, and a “bunch of bullshit,” which is amusing considering the fact that Sabu had spent the last six months as an FBI informant.  He also told “Anarchoas,” a nickname that allegedly belonged to Hammond, “if I get raided anarchaos your job is to cause havok in my honor.”  Raided? At that point Sabu was busy setting up a server courtesy of the FBI and convincing Hammond and others to unwittingly transfer “multiple gigabytes of confidential data” to it.  After being doxxed online (correctly might I add), Sabu laughed it off with his usual online bravado and tweeted, “If god forbid I am arrested, I’ll admit to my crimes, and take myself down. I do not believe in bringing others down for my own sins. Thanks.”  And a month after alleged LulzSec member, Topiary, was arrested, Sabu went on the defense. “[Y]ou better watch your fucking mouth because I’m not a rat…and I definitely didnt rat my own boy,” he wrote in early August, 2011.  But Sabu was the very definition of a rat and he didn’t betray one hacker, he hung them all out to dry.

On Christmas Eve, AntiSec defaced Stratfor’s website, released a list of clients who subscribed to the company, wiped four servers clean, and posted 30,000 credit cards numbers from Stratfor’s database.  According to arstechnica.com, “By January 11 [2012], the group working with Hammond started to unpack the contents of the Stratfor servers onto the server provided by Monesgur—providing a treasure trove of evidence for the FBI.”  Three months later, the New York Times reported that hackers had “quietly orchestrated” the attack against Stratfor and that any conspiracy theories surmising that the FBI had sat back and let it happen or that Julian Assange was their end game were “patently false.”  An unnamed FBI source stated, “We would not have let this attack happen for the purpose of collecting more evidence,” but looking at the evidence it appears that that’s exactly what they did.

Although the feds claimed that they didn’t learn about the breach until after hackers were “knee-deep” in Stratfor’s files and there was little if anything they could do at that point (besides give the hackers free range to ravage the site), chat logs show that their wondersnitch, Sabu, had pretty much orchestrated the entire thing after Hyrriiya contacted him.  But in what appears to be a massive effort to whitewash the FBI’s involvement, the feds asserted that Hammond, not Sabu, was the ringleader behind the Stratfor hack and that it was Hammond who had initially passed along Hyrriiya’s information to Sabu, not the other way around.  In his own defense, Hammond claimed that he had never even heard of Stratfor before Sabu told him about the company and Hyrriiya actually wrote a letter to Hammond’s attorneys stating as much (emphasis is Hyrriiya’s),

“…I am stating and admitting, AS FACT, that I was the person who hacked Stratfor and who subsequently provided the details and access to Sabu through both private PMs with him and in the #Antisec main channel on irc.cryto.net. Your client [Hammond] only later worked on the Stratfor per request and direction of Sabu and only after I had accessed all relevant sensitive client information and databases.

Hyrriiya also pointed out the obvious: The feds must have known about Stratfor from the beginning because they were logging Sabu’s computer the entire time.  The bottom line?  It seems fairly obvious that the FBI was not only aware of when the hack was going to take place, they helped orchestrate it through their informant.  Comically, BBC published an article in March, 2012, quoting Rik Ferguson, director of Trend Micro’s European security research as saying, “Operation Anti-Sec might read like something from a cyberpunk novel but in reality it is being used by far too many to lay a thin veneer of altruism over something entirely selfish.”  Perhaps Ferguson should have saved his judgement for the FBI rather than Antisec because it was the FBI who was logging their informant’s computer, it was the FBI’s informant that orchestrated the hack, and it was the FBI that set up a surreptitious dumping ground where they could access Stratfor’s data.

And they were just getting started…

(The title to this article was changed on February 7, 2018)

Under Attack Part Seven:  The U.S. Intelligence Network

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