he Washington Post’s Web site was disrupted Thursday morning by a hacker group sympathetic to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that apparently launched a coordinated wave of attacks on American news outlets.
The WP website reported that a “group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) briefly succeeded in redirecting readers of some articles on washingtonpost.com to the SEA’s own site. The organization supports Assad, who has led a long, bloody campaign to crush a rebellion in Syria.”
The intrusion lasted about 30 minutes and affected a number of foreign-news articles. “We’ve taken defensive measures, and at this time there are no other issues affecting the site,” said Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, The Post’s managing editor for digital.
The SEA is a group of computer hackers who support embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It initially emerged in April 2011 during the rise of anti-regime protests in Syria.
The quality of their attacks suggest that the SEA includes both professional quality hackers, who might be receiving some form of compensation, and young volunteers who believe in the regime, the WP reported in a separate report.
Those volunteers might include Syrian diaspora; some of their hacks have used colloquial English and reddit memes. After Washington Post reporter Max Fisher called their jokes unfunny, one hacker associated with the group told a Vice interview “haters gonna hate.”
The group targets both dissidents within Syria and “sympathizers” outside the country. But that “sympathizer” label appears to be applied to anyone who talks about the Syrian conflict in almost any context without expressly endorsing the Assad regime.