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Re: S-weekly for Comment - Placing the Anonymous vs. Zeta conflict in context

Released on 2012-03-02 01:00 GMT

Email-ID 166004
Date 2011-11-01 22:32:58
Cool piece, comments and questions within


From: "Nate Hughes"
To: "Analyst List"
Sent: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 3:38:44 PM
Subject: Re: S-weekly for Comment - Placing the Anonymous vs. Zeta
conflict in context

On 11/1/11 1:11 PM, scott stewart wrote:

Placing the Anonymous vs. Zeta Conflict in Context

On Oct. 31, the online activist collective Anonymous posted a message to
the internet in which it stated that it was continuing with its
campaign against the Mexican criminal cartels and their
governmentsupporters despite the inherent danger.

The messageurged inexperienced activists who might not be practicing
proper online security measures to abstain from participating. It also
urged individuals associated with Anonymous to not conduct physical
pamphlet drops, participate in protests, wear or purchase Guy Fawkes
masks, or use Guy Fawkes imagery in their internet or physical world
activities. Guy Fawkes was British Catholic conspirator who was
involved in a plot to bomb the British Parliament in 1605, and who has
become somewhat of an Anarchist icon in the United Kingdom. The British
celebrate Guy Fawkes Day each year on Nov. 5, and the day has special
meaning for the anarchists.

It is not coincidental then, that in their Oct. 6 video, Anonymous set
Nov. 5 as the deadline for Los Zetas to release the Anonymous associate
who was allegedly kidnapped in Veracruz by Los Zetas. The Anonymous
associate was reportedly abducted during an Anonymous leaflet campaign
called Operation Paperstorm Also you might want to add the date he was
picked up.

The Oct. 31message acknowledged that the operation against Los Zetas,
dubbed a**# OpCartela** no space. also, make it clear that this is a
hashmark associated with twitter tagging (not looking to harp on it, but
we need to show that we're aware of what that is with at least a
parenthetical) is dangerous and noted that the collective would be
assembling a hand-picked group of known and trusted associates to
participate in a special task force to execute the operation. It asked
supporters to use a software widget they had developed in order to
anonymously pass information pertaining to drug trafficking to the task
force, which will then distribute it.

With Nov. 5, approaching, and at least some elements of Anonymous not
backing down on their threats to Los Zetas, we thought it would be
useful to provide some context to the present conflict between Anonymous
and Los Zetas and to also address some of its potential implications.


First it issignificant to understand that the epicenter of this event is
Veracruz, which has been a very busy place over the past few months in
terms of Mexicoa**s cartel wars. The port city also serves as a critical
transportation hub for the narcotics smuggling activities of the Los
Zetas cartel. Because of this, Stratfor has identified Veracruz as [link
] a bellweather city thatwill help determine the trajectory of the Los
Zetas cartel in the coming months.

One of the big recent developments in Veracruz was the Sinaloa
cartela**s push into the Zeta stronghold using the [link
] Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), which using the name
Matazetas (Zeta killers) conducted some high-profile body dumps of over
50 alleged low-level Zeta operatives on Sept. 20 and 22. On Oct. 25,
Mexican Marines arrested Carlos Arturo Pitalua-Carillo, a**El Bam
Bam,a** who was Los Zetas plaza boss in Veracruz. This means that in
Veracruz at the present time, Los Zetas are feeling pressure from both
the Government of Mexico and the CJNG.

Into this dynamic flow, we had the Anonymous internet collective begin
to take action in Veracruz in August. In response to what Anonymous saw
as the state of Veracruz supporting the Los Zetas cartel could really
use a bit more about what led an online collective of activists into the
mexican cartel war and why now? How does this fit with their modus
operandi and why veracruz now and not any other place at any other time
in the last year or two? we get at some of this below, but would get to
the what brought anonymous into this right up front...

, they launched Operation Paperstorm, in which activists associated with
this is the leaderless resistance model, and we want to be clear early
on that many of these 'associates' may be self-styled and self-appointed
'members' of the group, not unlike ELF or ALF... the Anonymous
collective distributed leaflets throughout Veracruz claiming the state
government supports Los Zetas. They conducted major leaflet
distributions on Aug. 13, 20, and 29. They also released videos to the
internet on the anonymous website? or on the website of the veracruz
government? or on youtube? on Aug. 26 and 29, condemning the State of
Veracruz. (According to the Oct. 6 Anonymous video, Los Zetas allegedly
kidnapped one of the activists involved in Operation Paperstorm.)

Activities outside of Veracruz have also played a part in setting the
stage. On Sept. 13, two people were tortured and killed and their bodies
hung from a pedestrianoverpass in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Signs
left with the bodies signified that Los Zetas had killed the pair
because they had posted information pertaining to Los Zetas on blogs
that specialize in reporting on the Mexican cartels. On Sept 26, the
body of Marisol Macias Casteneda was found beheaded in a park in Nuevo
Laredo. Macias who worked for a local newspaper allegedly posted on
cartel blogs using the nickname a**Laredo Girl.a** A message found with
her body noted that she was killed by Los Zetas due to her online

Following the death of Laredo Girl, Anonymous claimed responsibility for
a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack conducted against the
official website of the state of Veracruz. Although she was killed by
Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo Tamaulipas, Anonymous said their attack on the
Veracruz state website was because of the death of Laredo Girl. are we
implying that this is an indication of the level of sophistication of
anonymous activists' understanding of mexico and the cartels? I agree
that a sentence should be added here about what it means that Anonymous
chose to avenge Laredo Girl's death.

It is also important to recognize that Anonymous was also unhappy with
the State of Veracruz over the decision of the state to prosecute two
individuals who had posted false kidnapping reports on Twitter on Aug.
25. The false reports alleged that a group of children had been abducted
from a Veracruz school and the panic caused by the report allegedly
resulted in some two dozen traffic accidents as terrified parents rushed
to the school to check o n their children. The so-called a**twitter
terroristsa** were initially charged with offenses that could have
carried a 30-year sentence. Anonymous, which has absolute freedom of
speech on the internet as one of its foundational principles, took
umbrage with this stiff penalty for the Twitter case a** especially
because it stood in stark contrast with the impunity many cartel figures
enjoy in Mexico.

Following the Oct. 6 release of the video in which Anonymous threatened
Los Zetas if they did not release the kidnapped anonymous activist,
Stratfor began to focus on the story, and in light of the approaching
Nov. 5 deadline, decided to publish an, [link
] analysis of the topic, which was released on Oct. 28.

Following the release of our analysis, the topic has received a great
deal of media coverage. This publicity has generated a very interesting
response from Anonymous -- one that emphasizes the fast that it is a
collective of people and not an organization. As some
Anonymousactivists were backing off the issue, erasing online user
accounts, suggesting that the operation against Los Zetas had been a
hoax and claiming that no activist had been kidnapped, other activists
suggested that the campaign should be suspended. Still other activists
became more strident and determined in their posts, urging that the
campaign continue. Since Anonymous is a collective, activists can pick
and choose which actions they will participate in. that means in his
case that those activists who want to refrain from the campaign will and
those who want to participate will continue it.

This will to continue was manifested on Oct. 29, the personal website of
Gustavo RosarioTorres, the former attorney general of the Mexican state
of Tobasco was hacked and defaced with a message from Anonymous Mexico
stating that Rosario was aZeta Do we know if that claim is true? If so,
lets note it because it shows that Anonymous does have the ability to
dig up factual "dirt" about the Veracruz govt. officials . It was also
reflected in the tone of the Oct. 31 message. Some activists associated
with Anonymous clearly feel compelled to continue with the campaign due
to the outpouring of public support they received in the wake of the
media coverage. According to the Oct 31. Video statement:

a**we received many expressions of support and solidarity as well as the
voices of people crying for help. We must remember that we are on the
side of the people, and we cannot let down the people, especially in
critical moments like the one they currently live in.a**

We therefore anticipate that some Anonymous activists will continue the
campaign. We also believe that Los Zetas will respond.

Revenge of the Sith (Yes Kamran, I agree with Isa that Star Wars is
better than Star Trek wars all the way)

The variouscartel groups in Mexico have long used the internet as a
place to trumpet their triumphs on the battlefield and to taunt and even
degrade their enemies. The cartels have posted videos of them torturing,
executing and beheading members of opposing cartels. They also
frequently monitor narco blogs and sometimeseven post on them. As
demonstrated by the blogger killings in Nuevo Laredo in September, Los
Zetas appear to possess at least some rudimentary capability to trace
online activity to people in thephysical world. It is not known if they
employ their own team of dedicated cyber experts or if they rely on
sources within the Mexican government a** although the most likely
answer is probably a little of both.

In past Anonymous actions, like the Dec. 2010 attack against Pay Pal
following the Wikileaks case, governments in the U.S. and the UK have
arrested numerous individuals associated with Anonymous who allegedly
participated in the attack. In June 2011, Turkey arrested dozens of
activists associated with Anonymousactions conducted against the Turkish
government for its efforts to establish a national internet filtering

Los Zetas, like the other Mexican cartels, do not take affronts lightly.
Even if Anonymous is not able to provide information that will damage
Los Zetas smuggling operations, the very fact that this group has
decided to challenge Los Zetas publicly will result in some sort of
response. The big question is: do theypossess the capability to
effectively trace the organizers of the Anonymousaction against them?

One problem with an entity such as Anonymous is that it is intentionally
amorphous a** it is also as transnational as the internet, and it would
not be surprising if many of those chosen to participate in the
operation against Los Zetas are located outside of Mexico in locations
such as the U.S. and Europe which are outside the immediate reach of Los

But the amorphous nature of Anonymous can also cut the other way. If
Los Zetas pick up and execute some random patrons from an internet cafe,
behead them and place Guy Fawkesmasks on their heads, it will be very
difficult to prove that they were not associated with Anonymous. As
Anonymous noted in their Oct. 31 video, this is dangerous business.

The Big Picture

One thing to watch as the Anonymous operation continues is the way in
which the Mexican public reacts. Many people in the Mexican middle and
upper classes have been deeply affected by the criminal cartels and
theviolence the practice. We talk to many people in Mexico who are
fearful of being kidnapped. In many communities, especially places like
Juarez, Torreon, Monterrey and Veracruz, businessmen are being caught in
a terrible bind. On one hand, they are receiving ever-increasing
extortion demands from the cartels, while at the same time their
business revenues are dwindling because people are afraid to go out due
to the violence associated with those same cartels. This is forcing many
businessmen out of business. It is also creating a great deal of
frustration and resentment.

At the same time, Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries
in the world for journalists, and many media companies practice heavy
self-censorship to protect themselves. In the wake of the September
blogger killings some of the narco blogs, like Blog del Narco, have also
exhibited strong signs of fear inspired self-censorship. This means
that the legitimate press is not able to be of any real aid to the
Mexican people. watch normative...

Mexican citizens are also frustrated with their government, which is
well-known for corruption. This is the sentiment feeding Anonymousa**
original campaign in Veracruz. This frustration has lead some people to
begin to talk about

vigilante groups to fight the cartels a** though that has been attempted
before in Mexico and as we saw in the case of [link
] La Familia MichoacA!n, which originally began as such a vigilante
group, vigilantism frequently does not end well.

This is where Anonymous may fit in. With Mexican citizens unable to rely
on their government, the media or even armed vigilante groups for
assistance, they may embrace Anonymous and come to view its form of
cyber vigilantism as an outlet for their frustration -- and a safe way
to pass oninformation pertaining to cartel activities. If this occurs,
we may see people not just in Veracruz and other Zeta controlled areas
providing information to Anonymous, but citizens from all over the
country.The only thing is that I don't see what Anonymous can really do
to los Zetas. I mean they would have the dirt on officials in the
government who may be Zetas, but what will the Mexican government do
about it? I don't see the US govt. being able to do anything about that
either. For example, what happened to the guy Gustavo Torres in
response to the claim by Anonymous.

Also, in the same way that cartels leak information togovernments in an
effort to use them as weapons against their rivals, we could also very
well see groups such as the Sinaloa cartel provide information on Los
Zetas to Anonymous. This of course would provide even more reason for
Los Zetas to strike out against the activist collective.

one interesting angle is that anonymous depends on anonymity -- and
particularly novice self-styled, self-appointed members are not
necessarily in a position to adequately guard their own autonomy

Also, has autonomous struck out at entities as violent and capable as
the cartels before? or is this a new move (meaning that even the
experienced people have no practical experience in making judgments
about dangers to individuals and the life-and-death consequences of
dealing with the cartels...)

If the Anonymous information campaign does indeed take off, and if
Anonymous is attacked by Los Zetas, the activists could resort to
releasing sensitive information what kind of sensitive information? to
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in an attempt to damage Los
Zetas. This would be an incredible irony in light of the way Anonymous
has viewed itself as an opponent of the U.S. government in cases like
Wikileaks. do we have any indication that they would do this rather
than just making it public? What to be careful if this is how we are
going to conclude...