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BBC Monitoring

A hacker (or a group of hackers) who signs himself "sniper" and operates a blog by the name of "Virtual Jihad" (http://www.vjihad.parsiblog.ir/) has pledged to rid the Iranian blogosphere of "offending" blogs.

The first post on Virtual Jihad is a list of "strikes", which consists of dates (starting with 1 August) on which "immoral" blogs and blogs "opposed to the sacred system of the Islamic Republic" have been hacked, the names of the hacked blogs, and screen captures from some of these blogs. Some of the screen captures show photographs of women. One screen capture shows a blog that contains a photo of Che Guevara at the top right hand corner. A note above this screen capture and two blog addresses says: "The two blogs below which contained material in support of a bunch of pseudo-student club-wielding saboteurs have been hacked."

Then, a post dated 13 August reads as follows: "After hacking 50 blogs that were immoral and opposed to the sacred system! of the Islamic Republic, we received complaints from the directors of blog service providers, especially Blogfa. In view of the fact that both sides have the same aim, i.e. purging blogs that are immoral and against the sacred system of the Islamic Republic, and in view of the fact that none of the service providers have sections for reporting offences (Blogfa has a section by this name but it doesn't work), we've set up a section by the name of 'Reporting offences committed by Iranian blogs and websites'. Based on our discussions with the service providers, it was decided that we would give them the names of offending blogs and that they would block them. This plan will be carried out on a trial basis for now. If the service providers cooperate, then, fine, otherwise the Virtual Jihad group will resume its operations."

In a post dated 14 August, "the Virtual Jihad group" explains that it has had a series of exchanges with the director of the main targeted service pr! ovider (Blogfa). According to this post, "the Virtual Jihad group" had re-registered the hacked blogs "to teach others a lesson" and filled the re-registered blogs with quotes from religious/Shi'i texts. Blogfa is then said to have blocked and eliminated the newly re-registered blog much to the anger of "Virtual Jihad".

A post dated 20 August explains the latest state of play between "Virtual Jihad" and Iranian blog service providers. It explains that it has been agreed that "Virtual Jihad" will halt its operations for now and, instead, send lists of "offending" bloggers to the directors of the service providers. To this end, people are invited to report offending blogs and to register them at a site (http://takhalof.somee.com/) established by "Virtual Jihad" for this purpose. The post continues: "The first stage for the registration of offending blogs ended today and the lists of offenders has been sent to Mihanblog and Blogfa. The Virtual Jihad group and hezbollahi [religiously committed] bloggers will give the dear directors three day! s to block these blogs, which we don't think is too short a time. We hope that the dear directors will carry out this explicit order of the Koran and Islam. Otherwise, after the set period, the Virtual Jihad group will resume its operations."

In the 14 August post, "sniper" says that Blogfa has been given a list of 107 "offending" blogs and Mihanblog a list of 28 "offending" blogs but that "these figures do not represent a full cleansing and only relate to the first round of the reporting of offences".

"Sniper" adds: "Finally, we consider it our duty to say a special thanks to the directors of Parsiblog for providing a safe environment for hezbollahi and religious bloggers, as well as for the continuation of the Virtual Jihad group's activities. The Virtual Jihad group declares its full support for this service provider."

Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 21 Aug 07



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