The masked-members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous have done another about face and are again planning to post identifying information online about the civilian associates of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s largest and most lethal drug cartels, just days after reportedly canceling the plans, according to the Anonymous Iberoamerica blog and former Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown.
The hacktivists apparently reconsidered the cancellation of Operation Cartel, first reported by Mexican newspaper Milenio on October 30, after receiving an outpouring of support from others online, also acknowledging that even if one or a few individuals leaked information under the banner of Anonymous, the entire organization would be deemed a target by the cartel.
“We go forward with the transaction, as well we have been requested,” read a post on the Anonymous Iberoamerica blog (translated). “If someone makes an action on behalf of Anonymous, criminals will not have the insight to tell who denied or who refused…We’re all on the same ship, sink or float. However, we encourage everyone who does not trust enough in their ability to refrain from participating in this operation.”
The blog post also adds:
“Are we afraid? Of course. Are we afraid for our lives? Obviously. However, we believe it is high time to say enough to the terrible situation caused by the falsehood of the government and lack of scruples of people who do not care about the welfare of their fellow human beings and have resulted in a deplorable state of ruin and disappointment in places like Mexico, a country that is on the verge of collapse..”
The blog additionally linked to a video posted on Tuesday by someone claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous Mexico which encourages potential participants to “Think before you join!”
The original plans, announced in an October 6 video (English mirror here), called for Anonymous to post the information about Mexican civilians working as cab drivers, journalists and police officers, who had supposedly provided support to Los Zetas. The stated goal was to threaten Los Zetas into turning over a member of Anonymous Veracruz who the video address claimed was kidnapped by the cartel during another Anonymous operation.
Barrett Brown, a former Anonymous spokesman who publicly left the group in May to concentrate on his own sunlight organization, Project PM, has maintained his contacts with the group and elected to support this operation because he was familiar with one of the organizers for many years.
“[Operation Cartel] was cancelled, but then they held a vote and decided to restart it,” said Brown in an email to TPM on Wednesday, referring to the event’s Mexican organizers. “I’m now working with them,” Brown added.
Brown further explained the situation in a video address he posted on YouTube, saying “It [Operation Cartel] was started by a small number of Anons a number of days back. This was canceled earlier this morning by one of the people involved and reported in the media as having been canceled. Shortly thereafter, the people held a vote and decided to go ahead with the operation. And at the same time, you have people unconnected with the operation are in the process of running down notes and otherwise planning for their own assisting operations.”
Brown also noted that the members of Anonymous Veracruz and Anonymous Mexico most likely to be affected by any retaliatory violence by Los Zetas weren’t backing down either.
“There is a great deal of enthusiasm; several of those who are running this are themselves in Veracruz, Nuevo Leon, and other Zeta territory,” Brown wrote in an email to TPM.
“Fundamentally, the fact that their are lives in the balance does not differentiate this operation from previous Anonymous operations, particularly those in North Africa,” Brown said in his video, referring to the Anonymous involvement and support of the so-called Arab Spring.
“Anyone who’s argument is that the Zetas will come and kill us etc., this isn’t the movement for them,” Brown said. “Obviously I respect anyone who doesn’t want to himself participate.”
Brown tweeted the news earlier in the day, adding, “Do you want to make a cash bet on whether or not I’ll be killed by Zetas?,” an apparent effort to disregard or downplay of the reports from global intelligence firm Stratfor that Los Zetas were already employing computer experts to track down the Anonymous participants in the operation.
Brown invited users to email questions to him at email@example.com.