A week ago, Spanish-speaking hacktivists chatting with the Associated Press revealed their suspicions that recent prosecutions of hackers in Europe and Latin America were the result of extensive infiltration by law enforcement, not technical wizardry. At the end of this week, their suspicions were proved correct.
This week culminated in the arrest of a hacker, important to hacker group Anonymous, known as Sabu. Sabu was in fact Hector Xavier Monsegur, a 28-year-old father of two from New York City, with whom journalistic colleagues at The Internet Chronicle had been keeping in close contact until late last year. Shortly after the time of the original Stratfor infiltration, and not WikiLeaks’s republication of its fruits, Billy Walshe, an authority on the hacker group Anonymous, opined that Sabu’s new tactics against media organizations seemed out of tune with the ideals of Anonymous. He claims Anonymous’s ideas are for free speech. Wrote Walshe, “Anonymous generally stands firm on the issue of freedom of information and especially freedom of the press. With the exception of relatively harmless LulzSec defacements of NPR and The Sun, this has been one of the unspoken rules followed by the collective.”
In reference to an attack on journalists, advocated by Sabu, Walshe added, “As bankers, CEOs, and other white collar criminals rob everyone blind, Sabu has decided to rob what he calls ‘white hat corporate journalists’ because they have big ol’ corporate accounts and they aren’t starving or anything … What’s clear is that he obviously doesn’t work for Anonymous.”
This was only four months after The Economist had declared, “The most expert of [Anonymous’ hackers], who goes by the alias Sabu, is still at large.” Forebodingly however, The Economist would add in the same August article, “Old-fashioned policing, such as less severe sentences for those who snitch, is proving effective.”
Sabu received legal benefit from the FBI by publicly advocating theft from journalistic outlets, and that stolen sums be donated to charities, charities that would inevitably of course have to waste financial resources to return the illicitly contributed sums.
“The federal government is run by a bunch of fucking cowards. Don’t give in to these people. Fight back. Stay strong,” said a tweet from Monsegur’s account Monday. Another from the say day almost seemed to indicate Monsegur’s hinting at his working for the FBI: “Without informants or companies bending over [and] giving up their customer data, the feds would be further behind than they are now.”
On the 24th of December, however, in response to Walshe’s comments, a speaker apparently Monsegur ran a series of epithets at the editor of The Internet Chronicle. “You are reading too deeply into it,” wrote Sabu’s Twitter. “I don’t get your [frustration] considering you’re a fucking pseudo-journalist. Really.” “[In my opinion, I] was_ a massive fan of chronicle.su and supported it, but all of you can really go fuck yourselves. Pseudo-journalism power! Who is that guy from chronicle.su I used to talk to on IRC? I sure as hell hope it wasn’t youre [sic] ignorant ass … You’re as irrelevant as possible. And you aren’t even preaching any truths. You do not dictate who is anon … And you by no means hold any consensus. You’re as irrelevant and useless as Adrian Lamo before snitching Manning. You’re mad. Apparently you are the new overlord and leader of anonymous. You decide who is anonymous and isn’t [sic], and are on a rampage to prove it.” “What a fucking idiot. You lost any credibility at all … You also have a logic problem. I highly doubt you would pass the turing test. You’re bipolar, and emotionally distressed … For someone who is so protective of journalists you sure as fuck are doing journalism wrong.”
However, behind Mr. Monsegur’s rebellious pretenses were probable insecurities about The Internet Chronicle editor’s accusations, which might expose him as part of the very same structure that enabled perpetrations against who “Sabu” would call “the people.”
Months before these tweets, as well as The Economist’s misleading article, on June 6th of 2011, Monsegur was caught by the FBI and in August agreed to enter into a guilty plea to his benefit on the condition that he help the bureau hunt down hackers attacking banks and IT law authorities. Monsegur would months later enter into legal trouble for telling a New York police officer that he was himself a federal agent. The details of Sabu’s prolific Twitter account, @AnonymouSabu, have been removed from Twitter.
The FBI’s announcement of Monsegur’s compliance came at the heels of INTERPOL-led operations in Latin America and Europe that led to the arrest of 25 individuals, for using computers to undermine financial and law enforcement agencies. A late-June posting from PasteBin, a Web service that allows short-term text publication, indeed professed to out the members of “LulzSec.” (“LulzSec” means extremely literally “Out-Loud Laughs Security.”) The list indeed included Monsegur.
While in the service of the FBI, Mr. Monsegur communicated repeatedly to fellow hacktivists about the importance of what he supposed was integrity and about resisting cooperation with law enforcement:
enquerre@anonymouSabu Corporate ownership of the internet can never be allowed. Thank you for your voice against those who #sellout justice. (retweeted by anonymouSabu)
anonymouSabu @GJaniashvili And being in accordance with the people before you sell your ass to any government is even better, mate.
anonymouSabu @Bitchiest I can’t “sell out” friends who I simply don’t know. Lets not get started on how many #obs kids got raided behind your attacks.
anonymouSabu @mikko Touche. You and I are both criminals. I hack governments and you betray the people. In essence we are both the problem. Pussy.
@ioerrorThe people against #antisec that also support US wars in Iraq/Afghanistan, and the military industrial complex are completely hypocritical. (retweeted by anonymouSabu)
anonymouSabu@JustinAngel @YourAnonNews FUCK the intelligence community. the security industry. and everyone in between. We support the people.