Shortly after the controversial Innocence of Muslims movie appeared on YouTube, hackers of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters group started launching massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks against the website of United States financial institutions in an effort to convince US authorities to order its removal.
The websites of tens of banks and credit unions were attacked, but to no avail. YouTube refused to remove the movie, arguing that only the copyright holder could do that.
Now, a three-judge panel from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that one of the actresses, Cindy Lee Garcia, has copyright interest in the movie so she can get YouTube to remove it.
Garcia, the one who appeared in the movie to say “Is your Mohammed a child molester?,” said she was tricked by the filmmaker, claiming that she thought she was playing in a movie called Desert Warrior.
It turns out that the US justice system has managed to do what hundreds of cyberattacks couldn’t.
The attacks of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters went on for weeks. They targeted the sites of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, BT&T, HSBC, Citibank, PNC, Huntington, Capital One, SunTrust, Fifth Third, ZionsBank and many others.
Sometimes they took short breaks from their attacks, but they seemed determined to keep on until the movie was removed.
“There is no other objective and if the movie is removed, the attacks will be stopped. Protesting against insult to the prophet united and coordinated us,” the hackers told Softpedia in an interview back in November 2012.
They even created an equation to help them determine for how long the attacks would be launched.
In July 2013, experts noted that the Brobot botnet, which the Cyber Fighters were using to launch the DDOS attacks, wasbecoming bigger.
A few days later, the hackers announced the start of phase 4 of their campaign. However, the fourth phase never came. We tried to reach out to the hacktivists to see what had happened, but they didn’t respond to our emails.
At the time of the attacks, many US officials claimed that the hacktivist group was just a front for Iran. However, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters denied it.
“U.S. prefers to merge the insult issue with this case to decrease the insulting burden and change it to a confrontation with its competitors. No country supports us,” the hackers told us.