Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]
Following an initial attack on the official Formula One website, Anonymous is continuing to target sites affiliated with the Grand Prix races, and with the Bahraini government.
The attack was launched as part of Anonymous’ latest project, ‘Operation Bahrain,’ with the hacker collective promising Bernie Eccelstone, Formula One CEO that they would take down the official website, turning it into “a smoking crater in cyberspace.”
Anonymous has promised to attack Formula One online for the duration of the races, and succeeded in bringing the official website down on Friday.
Earlier today, Anonymous Twitter account YourAnonNews reported that it had temporarily taken down one of Bahrain’s government websites down, along with FIA.com, but at the time of writing, both sites were up and running:
Earlier, #Anonymous took Bahrain Interior Ministry & FIA.com offline in #OpBahrain. bit.ly/I2x6aL #F1 #FormulaNONE
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) April 22, 2012
The fan website F1-racers.net, however, is among the latest to be taken offline by Anonymous, its content replaced with following message:
Greetings from Anonymous
For over one year the people of Bahrain have struggled against the oppressive regime of King Hamad bin Al Khalifa. They have been murdered in the streets, run over with vehicles, beaten, tortured, tear gassed, kidnapped by police, had their businesses vandalised by police, and have tear gas thrown in to their homes on a nightly basis.
Still the regmine persists to deny any meaningful reform and continues to use brutal and violent tactics to oppress the popular calls for reformation. Not only is the Human Rights situation in Bahrain tragic, it becomes more drastic with each passing day. For these reasons the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain should be strongly opposed. The Al Khalifa regime stands to profit heavily off the race and has promised to use live ammunition against protestors in preparation. They have already begun issuing collective punishment to entire villages for protests and have promised further retribution “to keep order” for the F1 events in Bahrain. The Formula 1 racing authority was well-aware of the Human Rights situation in Bahrain and still chose to contribute to the regime’s oppression of civilians and will be punished.
We demand the immediate release of human rights worker Abdulhadi Alkhawaja who has spent over 70 days on hunger strike. He has committed no crimes and is being punished by the regime for advocating people’s basic human rights. Free him and all other political prisoners in Bahrain. End torture. Deport all mercenary police and stop the use of tear gas against civilians.
We Do Not Forgive. We Do Not Forget. Expect Us.
The attack was also accompanied by a data dump from the website, containing information relating to Formula One ticket sales. The data includes names, email addresses, and passport numbers, with personal information redacted.
Attention all – #OpBahrain : Press Release from #Anonymous with #Formula1 data dump – 04/22/2012 tmblr.co/Z_WFywK5HdKu
— Anonymous Operations (@Anon_Central) April 22, 2012
According to Zdnet, other fan websites taken down included f1officialpartners.com, live-timing.formula1.com, and totalf1.com.
Formula One has been the subject of a severe backlash following the decision to press forward with the Grand Prix races, with Amnesty International calling for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be called off. However, as the New York Times points out, this is far from Formula One’s first sporting controversy:
“After the war, when the term Formula One was adopted, grand prix racing was one of the last sports to join the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa. staging a grand prix at the Kyalami track outside Johannesburg until 1985, long after most other sports had joined the boycott…”
In addition to their traditional hacking tactics, Anonymous is also calling for its supporters to “telephone bomb” Formula One’s official numbers, as well as calling for them to flood their email and contact forms.
While Bahrain has continued to witness protests for a year, the small Gulf kingdom has been unable to gain the same popular global support that its regional neighbours, Egypt and Syria, have enjoyed.
However, as journalists arrived in Bahrain earlier this week, many found themselves turned away at the airport, among them AP, AFP and Sky News reporters, and daughter of human rights activist Abdulahadi Alkhawaja, Zainab was arrested after staging a sit-in on the road that leads to the Formula One circuit in Bahrain.
Earlier this weekend, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid al Khalifa, spoke out on Twitter, responding to ongoing criticism:
If any here to cover ugly bloody confrontations ,go to syria. Here we have a grand Prix to enjoy. Also, there is an ongoing war n the Sudan
— Khalid Alkhalifa (@khalidalkhalifa) April 20, 2012
We can probably expect more attacks from Anonymous on Formula One websites today, as well as Bahraini governmental sites, as people continue their attempts to “enjoy” the Grand Prix.
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