November 6, 2011
Questions Remain As Anonymous, Zetas Showdown Ends
Members of the hacker group Anonymous say that they have abandoned plans to expose members of the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, various media outlets reported Saturday.
However, there are conflicting reports over which side can claim victory in the standoff.Anonymous posted a video Friday claiming that they would publish the names, photographs and addresses of Zetas supporters and accused the drug gang of kidnapping one of the collective's associates in the Mexican state of Veracruz. A masked man in that video demanded the release of that unidentified individual.
According to a report published on the Fox News Latino website, Anonymous opted to abandon the campaign after the kidnapped member was freed. That report also said that the cartel had threatened to kill 10 people for each name revealed by the hacking organization, and that some reaction to the move on Twitter was mixed, with some calling Anonymous "cowards for backing down."
However, in an article written for PCWorld, freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. said that the Zetas "blinked" in the showdown between the groups, and that "questions have been raised in some quarters about whether the whole affair was an elaborate, if not potentially dangerous, hoax."
Mello reports that the Anonymous associated individual was released only a few hours before the November 5 deadline that the group had set in its YouTube-posted video ultimatum. The Zetas cartel has been linked to "thousands of deaths and gruesome acts of retribution, including beheadings," he added.
While investigating the incident, Damien Cave and Ravi Somaiya of the New York Times attempted to contact Anonymous hackers for verification, since no name or age of the alleged kidnap victim had been provided in the initial video.
They eventually received conflicting reports, with members initially identifying the individual as a young man, then later posting on Twitter that the person had been set free and they had "established contact with her."
Another individual described as a "direct participant" in Anonymous' "OpCartel" movement claimed that the victim was a 20-year-old Mexican man, and that the two of them had spoken via Skype (though requests for a replay of the conversation went unanswered).
So was the conflict between the two groups real, or a hoax?
"We don´t have enough facts to draw any conclusion at this point," Fred Burton, an analyst for a private intelligence firm known as Stratfor, told Cave and Somaiya on Friday. "It's amazing to me, this whole set of circumstances."
On the Net:
- Los Zetas Profile (InSight Crime)
- Image Courtesy Vincent Diamante/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)