Here’s how it went down: On February 16, an “Open Letter to Westboro Baptist Church” was posted on the website of the Anonymous hacker group, notorious for disrupting the service of such sites as MasterCard and Twitter, following the WikiLeaks document release in November and December of 2010.
The letter, which was supposedly from Anonymous stated, “We…have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion.”
However, the statement went on, “ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man as reached its apex and we shall now be moved to action.”
What followed was an order to “cease and desist” all further protests and to take down the Westboro Baptist Church’s godhatesfags.com website or face “irreversible” damage.
Westboro Baptist Church has a long history of protesting at funerals and other events in the name of religion. They believe that God hates America because of homosexuals, and at protests they often carry signs that read, “Got hates Fags!” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers!”
They are currently embroiled in a Supreme Court case with Albert Snyder, the father of Matthew Snyder, who died while serving in Iraq. The church protested at Snyder’s funeral and Mr. Snyder is alleging, among other things, intentional infliction of emotional distress, for not just the protest itself, but also for a so-called “epic” that the group placed on its website in the weeks after the funeral.
But here’s the rub. Anonymous apparently never posted the “Open Letter” on its site. Because of the way their system is set up, anyone can post to the anonnews.org site, and, in a press release issued yesterday, Anonymous insists that it was, in fact, Westboro Baptist itself that posted the open letter.
Anonymous writes, ”So we’ve been hearing a lot about some letter that we supposedly sent you this morning. Problem is, we’re a bit groggy and don’t remember sending it. Our best guess is that you heard about us on that newfangled TV of yours and thought we might be some good money for your little church.”
The apparent motive for the open letter was to call on Anonymous to run a DDoS — or distributed denial of service — attack on Westboro Baptist’s site. DDoS attacks, the kind that took down MasterCard, generally occur when users overload a site with hits, effectively rendering it unavailable to legitimate traffic.
The Anonymous release continues, “You thought you could play with Anonymous. You observed our rising notoriety and thought you would exploit our paradigm for your own gain. And then, you though you could lure some idiots into a honeypot for more IPs to sue…While Anonymous thanks you for your interest, and would certainly like to take a break and have some fun with you guys, we have some more pressing matters to deal with at the moment.”
Westboro Baptist responded with an open letter to the “Crybaby Hackers,” calling on them to “Bring it!” The letter read, in part, “A puddle of pimple-faced nerds organized under the cowardly banner of “Anonymous” claim they plan to hack Westboro’s Websites…Bad miscalculation, girls!”
The feud continues.