Friday, October 10, 2008
Al-Arabiya.net Hacked - and Overview of the Cyberfitna
ALARABIYA - QARDHAWI - QARDHAWI'S SON - IRANIAN GOVERNMENT - SUNNI/SHIA - CYBERWAR
In a triumphant escalation, Shia hackers won a major battle by taking down the website of Saudi al-Arabiya.net, this is the most high-profile yet on a war that seems to be growing bigger and bigger by the day, looking around Shia websites it seems to me that there are many who view al-Arabiya.net as hostile to Shia, even the very balanced EyeRaki has the view that "Al-Arabiya has not stooped down to the (very low) standards of the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera but it has broadcast its fair share of sectarian-laced reports and anti-Shia rhetoric", he's partly right, as al-Arabiya seems to have the sole interest of advocating not necessarily anti-Shia views but whatever views that promote the Saudi agenda at the time in a polished fashion that might suit their American sponsors, while al-Arabiya often uses headlines such as "Shia Pilgrims Invade Damascus" or something to the effect, they often use sensationalized headlines regardless of the content, in particular some silly The Insider-style content that can only be described as 'sleaze' (the Noor marketing), still, their anti-Hezbollah stance on the Lebanese crisis was very obvious, and even more obvious was the way they handled the ongoing Sunni-Shia cyberfitna and its associations, for example regarding the related incident with the son of Qardhawi, they ignored the whole deal until they got a denial from head of Egyptian Shia, Mohammed al-Durayni. and they promptly published the denial front and center. After al-Arabiya vehemently denied Yusuf's Shiism, he promptly issued a statement on his website denying that he had talked to any newspaper and that those speaking are not speaking in his name or with his consent. All this suggests to me that the man had indeed converted but is having a hard time with it.
But you might ask, how does al-Qardhawi's Son fit into all this?
It all started last Ramadhan when the popular and mainstream Sunni cleric Yusif al-Qardhawi decided to launch his usual tirade of criticisms against Shia and their invasion, al-Qardhawi is the most prominent Sunni member in the Sunni-Shii Worldwide Reconcillation Effort, he's also had a televised debate at one point with former Iranian president Hashimi Rafsanjani that led nowhere of course, in general, I think al-Qardhawi's position on Shiis, like the entire reconciliation effort, was always one of pensive frustration, such efforts always boil down to the overconfident Sunnis repeatedly urging the Shia to stop several fundamental Shia practices with the Shia as usual dodging and trying to hand-glad with issues like unity against Israel. al-Qardhawi has criticized the Shia several times before, he even criticized Hassan Nasrallah (calling him "an extremist Shia like all of them") when he issued a statement of lukewarm support during the Lebanon war, but this time he went stronger, calling them 'heretics' and actively protesting proselytizing in Egypt.
al-Qardhawi's comments unleashed a fury among the Shia, with the semi-official Iranian MAHR agnecy accusing him of 'promoting Zionist goals' and proudly boasting about the truth of the Shia creed as proven by those wanting to convert to Shiism who al-Qardhawi is not so happy about.
A few days after al-Qardhawi incident, 300 Shii websites were taken down, those websites ranged from heavyweight Ayatollah official websites (Sistani, Khoei), Iranian religious websites, and even an Iranian file sharing service. The message that appeared on all of these websites carried the typical arrogance of Wahhabi takfirism, which suggested that this group is relevant within the sizable and very organized anti-Shia activity on the Internet.
The Shia retaliated a few days later, but their signature carried some distinct images, first EyeRaki saves me the trouble of the journalist bit:
an extremist Sunni group called GroupXP attacked several Shia websites...all the websites show the same message. The website of the "Zoroastrian Safavid" has been hacked with the "help of Allah". The word "Shia" isn't even used once, instead they are referred to as rejectionists, descendants of Ibn al-Alqami, Zoroastrians and "sons of the Persians". typical language used by Salafis who do not consider Shias within the realm of Islam. Following the attack on hundreds of Shia websites, some Iranian Shia decided to pay back in kind by hacking Sunni websites. A picture of the 'Persian Gulf', a face painted with the Iranian flag and an Israeli flag torn in two come up as the homepage for these sites. The hacking was justified by using part of a verse from the Quran [2:194] "...And one who attacketh you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you..." Some sites however show a picture of two hands interlocked with the phrase "Oh Muslims, Unite Unite" with a tongue-in-cheek message at the bottom that reads "Because of Eid-el-Fetr , some of your sites will be returned to you in the next 24 hours".
There are several things to notice about the counter-attack, there is a strong Iranian bent, and the conciliatory stance implied by the tongue-in-cheek message heavily suggest to me that this is the work of somebody affiliated with the Iranian government. there is a general air of cagey carefulness that is a trademark of Iranian foreign policy, note that the targeted websites were mostly not regular Sunni websites but specifically targeted sites that are anti-Shia (including the most high-profile one, D-Sunnah.net), in effect saying that we have no problem with nice friendly Sunnis but only anti-Shia Sunnis, I don't think many normal Shia would react similarly (I don't know Persian, and Arab Shia would be naturally more timid, but for example check out some of the comments on ShiaChat.com, they are as murderous as any Wahhabi gathering), their choice of words in the rebuttal to the frothing Sunni attack doesn't seem likely to be the work of a normal religious zealot. I mean if someone attacked my creed so viciously I wouldn't turn the other cheek to him without signifying one bit of criticism like that (and there are many), blaming the Zionists is also another trademark Iranian policy, and everybody knows that the most vicious anti-Shia polemics came nowhere near the Zinoist Entity, Perhaps the Sunni attack itself is in some way linked to the Saudi government, (and indeed, some of those extremely anti-Shia websites are run by well-known sheikhs, not underground movements) which is why perhaps the Iranians eventually attacked the very official al-Arabiya.net, maybe they know better. (before al-Arabiya.net, there were several attacks against other Saudi, Kuwaiti and Emirati governmental affailiated websites)
Where does al-Qardhawi's Son fit into all this? Ali al-Korani, a Shia cleric with a talk-show on TV first said that al-Qardhawi's anger was because his son, Abdulrahman Yousif, converted to Shiism, many Shia websites circulated the news item and some pointed out to a Sunni mufti in Palestine, Mahir Humood, as the source ; Humood currently has a statement on his website denying this and saying that he only 'criticized al-Qardhawi and was only speculating when he said it was probably due to some conversion amongst his family members.'
Abdilrahman Yusuf, who is al-Qardhawi's third son, is miles away from his father, he is handsome for starters, a few years ago he changed from an Islamic chanter to a furious Pan-Arab poet, there seem to be several things about him that might have alluded to this conversion to Shiism, he made a visit to southern Lebanon following the war and his recent output strongly saluted Nasrallah, plus his most famous poem, which features the most enjoyable and scathing attacks on Husni Mubarak (al-Hatiku Bi Amr-Allah (The Violatior In The Name of God) mocks the Abbasid Caliphs tradition of adopting titles with 'Allah' in them) all this suggest a possible frustration with corrupt dynastic rulers and a strong infatuation of people like Nasrallah, which is something he might have found to stem from Sunni and Shii systems of government.
So where does this take us? To me, al-Qardhawi's frustrated statements reflect an honest portrayal of Sunni-Shia relations, or lack thereof, indeed, politically it was a very stupid thing to do, and he has been soundly criticized by other prominent Sunni scholars such as al-Awa, on the overall cyberwarring, the Shia who never had as powerful an Internet presence as the Sunnis (at least in Arabic language sources) proved to be capable of conducting major reprisals and scored high by coming out as the wise sages who are reining in the childish Sunnis and reminding them repeatedly of the greater enemy ; Israel, something that reeks very suspiciously of organized government work to me. I don't see this ongoing war as some child's play at all, and with a prominent site such al-Arabiya being hacked things risk further escalation, although I think by now both sides have been proven as strong and they will see things pointless in the long run.
NOTE: The war seems to have a far larger scope than I thought, countless forums and websites have been destroyed. (Shii websites only)