American hacker, who goes by alias of ‘The Raptor’ and claims to be a grandfather and retired military man, takes credit for temporarily shutting down forums frequented by jihadists and Al Qaeda sympathizers.
Calling himself a patriot acting on behalf of U.S. troops serving overseas, The Raptor claims to be behind last month’s attack on Al Qaeda’s main online forum, Shamukh Islamic Network, and a handful of other sites and forums, including Ansar al-Mujahideen, where jihadists gather online to issue threats and exhort one another to acts of terror. The sites went down on March 22, and most remained dark for nearly two weeks. As the websites stayed offline, The Raptor taunted his targets on Twitter, daring them to “bring it.”
“Bow. Wave. Exit Stage Right. Curtains. Applause,” he tweeted after Shamukh, the main site used to blast out Al Qaeda content, was taken out of commission, only to return days later with a message blaming the outage on “Enemies of Allah.”
In the online world, where posters and hackers alike take on false personas and play a virtual game of cat and mouse, it is difficult to know if The Raptor is who he says he is, someone simply claiming credit, or if the hack attacks are part of some larger, government-related operation.
“Who is taking it down is an interesting question, but does it matter?” asked Jeff Bardin, cyberterror expert and former Air Force Arabic linguist who is now a principal at the private intelligence firm Treadstone 71.
If experts can’t be sure who is taking the jihadist sites down, it is unlikely the extremists who run them and post on them can, either. But it is all but certain they’ve been stung by the taunts of someone calling himself The Raptor, or as his Twitter handle is spelled, “the3raptor.”
“Just another infidel defending cyberspace for God and country,” The Raptor describes himself on Twitter.
A man who FoxNews.com contacted through The Raptor’s Twitter page reluctantly described himself as a grandfather and retired military man with a child serving active duty. These details could not be confirmed independently by FoxNews.com, and he declined to provide any other details about his identity.
While The Raptor is cagey about his true identity, he makes no effort to hide his agenda. He tweets frequently, and maintains a blog. Recently, he corresponded at length with FoxNews.com via Twitter direct messaging.
“Our kids keep getting killed because jihadists make better bombs than they do cupcakes,” The Raptor said. “Anything I can do to disrupt and demoralize the enemy is worthwhile and on the table.
“Some say I and others like me are Crusaders; that we hate Islam or desire to offend Allah,” he continued. “That is absolutely and fundamentally wrong. Some of my best friends are Muslims, and I love them. They don’t wish me harm, and I would give my life to defend them. This has only to do with violent criminals who cloak themselves in the wool of a good and peaceful religion to bring death and destruction to the world.”
“If the law can do nothing, we must take the risk ourselves. I am not the law but I represent justice.” – Sherlock Holmes
Defending the cyber landscape for God and country
“When the blood stops flowing, the historians can make of it what they wish,” he said. “I’ll just smile and play with my grandkids.” – th3raptor