Cops. defence contractors. The FTC. Military attorneys. FBI conference calls. Some of the most striking hack-attacks of the past year were executed under the middle finger banner of AntiSec. But what if this "movement" was a gigantic trap all along?
We know Sabu was a snitch. We know the Puerto Rican projects mastermind behind the most popular, prolific internet destruction streak of modern memory was a traitor. He sold he fellow elites out to save his own arse.
But what if it went further than that — a lot further? There's good reason to believe Sabu not only sold out the top of the top, but swept potentially thousands of Anonymous groupies under the direction of the FBI — that Sabu wasn't just a stoolpigeon — but a soldier. His former (vengeful) buddies have presented a pretty compelling case that Hector "Sabu" Monsegur not only informed the feds, but actively encouraged people to break the law in order to get them in trouble? That's treachery of a whole other magnitude — and it might just be true.
YourAnonNews, the largest quasi-official Twitter entity (and group mouthpiece) for Anonymous, recently pieced together a timeline they say makes the case: "#AntiSec [was] Created and Operated Under FBI Supervision," with Sabu acting as internet agent provocateur. His long con, they say, was to rally the riff-raff who worshipped him, herd them into chatrooms monitored by the feds and encourage self-incrimination — he was a hacker working from an FBI office on an FBI computer to do its bidding.
The sequence of events is simple. A couple weeks after his arrest in early June, Sabu returns from a long Twitter hiatus — to announce the formation of AntiSec: "The biggest, unified operation amongst hackers in history. All factions welcome. We are one" — along with a manifesto:
Welcome to Operation Anti-Security (#AntiSec) - we encourage any vessel, large or small, to open fire on any government or agency that crosses their path. We fully endorse the flaunting of the word "AntiSec" on any government website defacement or physical graffiti art. We encourage you to spread the word of AntiSec far and wide, for it will be remembered. To increase efforts, we are now teaming up with the Anonymous collective and all affiliated battleships.
Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments.
Two months later, Sabu entered a plea bargain, reducing his sentence to a maximum of over 100 years (!) in exchange for his full cooperation with police, as well as — get this — the promise to "commit no further crimes whatsoever."
What, then, accounts for the next half a year he spent ostensibly committing and encouraging crimes? The timeline shows it all:
22 August 2011 — ANTISEC releases 1GB of personal data fromVanguard defence Industries, a Texas-based aerospace and defence firm
26 October 2011 — SABU calls on ANTISEC and other hackers worldwide to respond to police... and to visit the #ANTISEC channel in Anonops IRC
18 November 2011 — To protest police brutality at Occupy, ANTISEC (1) hacks and dumps International Association of Chiefs of Police and (2) defaces Boston, Massachusets Police website
24-26 December 2011 — As part of LulzXmas festivities, ANTISEC claim hack of USglobal thinktank Stratfor. 860,000 email addresses, 75,000 unencrypted credit card numbers stolen and later released publicly
3 February 2012 — ANTISEC defaces site of Puckett and Faraj law ﬁrmto protest Haditha massacre verdict. Law ﬁrm mail is leaked
3 February 2012 — ANTISEC releases an intercepted FBI conference call on Anonymous investigation
17 February 2012 — ANTISEC hacks and pwns FTC websites
All of these acts Sabu either directly participated in or was cheerleading online, ferrying his followers into FBI surveillance, setting up thousands of Anonymous devotees for attacks he — and the government — knew about before their victims. We know that during this time, on these exact days, he was not only cooperating with the FBI, he was following their orders.
He was also grinning to me about his presumably criminal exploits during the occasional chat:
October 11, 2011
February 12, 2012
The inference here isn't much of a grab. If Sabu adhered to the conditions of his bargain with the feds — and committed no crimes whatsoever — his calls to action were pure trickery. The attacks he planned and promoted were a ploy to pull more people down with him, to ingratiate himself with his FBI handlers and a deception across the interent as a whole — not just the five other compatriots cuffed this month.
So was it entrapment? Probably not. Alexander Reiner, professor at the Benjamin N Cardozo School of Law says entrapment is massively hard to prove — particularly in a case like this. Anyone swept up in Sabu's FBI front would have to prove they had no disposition to commit the crime in question — no easy task for self-proclaimed members of a hacker collective.
This is typical FBI business for terrorists, mafiosos, and now, hackers. Sabu, therefore, wasn't just an informant, nor was he just a criminal — he was a criminal who wanted to incriminate others, and to perpetrate of one of the biggest, grandest lies in the history of the internet.
Original photo: Peter Kim.