FRENCH hackers from the activist group Anonymous have declared “war” on the Islamic State after the Paris attacks.
In a video posted on YouTube, a representative wearing a hood and the group’s distinctive Guy Fawkes mask said the violence that left 129 people dead “can’t go unpunished”.
The statement said: “That’s why Anonymous activists from all over the world will hunt you down. Yes, you, the vermin who kill innocent victims, we will hunt you down like we did to those who carried out the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
“So get ready for a massive reaction from Anonymous. Know that we will find you and we will never let up.
“We are going to launch the biggest ever operation against you – expect very many cyber-attacks.
“War is declared. Prepare yourselves. Know this, the French people are stronger than you and will come out of this atrocity even stronger.”
The declaration is not the first time the “hacktivist” group has targeted Islamic State.
After the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, a Belgian offshoot of the group said it was “declaring war” against “al Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorists”.
It later boasted about shutting down a French website associated with extremists and helping get 1,500 IS-supporting Twitter and Facebook accounts off line.
Anonymous first emerged in 2003 and has become known for a series of well-executed public attacks on corporations, religious and governmental bodies.
The blunt declaration from Anonymous comes as the Islamic State itself threatens further violent acts against Western countries.
In an 11-minute video released on social media, and featuring what appear to be Islamic State fighters posing with high-powered weapons and an Islamic State flag, a man identified in subtitles as Al Ghareeb the Algerian issues a warning.
“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day, God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its centre in Washington,” the man says, in a translation by news agency Reuters.
“I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and (gun) silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before.”
The authenticity of the video has yet to be verified and it is not clear if Australia was mentioned. The Turnbull Government, which has been dropping bombs on Syrian targets since September, has so far ruled out increasing Australia’s presence there.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said this morning Australia’s committment to the air raid efforts was second only to the US in scale.
A US Department of Homeland Security official refused to comment on the video, according to Reuters, saying it had not received information about a specific threat.
However, FBI Director James Comey yesterday confirmed it had 900 active investigations into Islamic State across all 50 US states.
“While we take all threats seriously, we do not have specific credible information of an attack on the US homeland,” a DHS official told Reuters of the latest video.
French military forces attacked 20 targets in the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria yesterday in retaliation for the Paris attacks, which have killed 132 people and wounded more than 300 others. French President Francois Hollande has declared “war” on Islamic State and terrorism.
A French defence official told Associated Press that the “massive” air strikes had destroyed two jihadi sites in IS’s de facto capital, destroying a jihadi training camp and a munitions dump, where Iraqi intelligence officials say the attacks on Paris were planned.