[ABC News conducted an email interview with SEA The Shadow, a self-proclaimed leader of the Syrian Electronic Army. The pro-Syrian government collective of hackers has claimed responsibility for a number of high-profile cyber attacks on major Western media outlets. Below is a partial transcript of that interview, which has been edited for clarity. CLICK HERE to read the resulting ABC News report for more on the SEA along with expert commentary.]
REPORTER: What led to the recent attack on The New York Times website?
SEA The Shadow: Because they had published false reports about the situation in Syria.
R: Was there a particular story in the Times that your group objected to, or just the Syria coverage in general?
STS: No, only because of the wrong coverage of events in Syria.
R: How widespread was the attack? Do you consider it a success?
STS: I think that the whole world has seen this hack. Yes, it’s a success.
R: What are your other targets?
STS: Our targets will be related to the Syrian issue.
R: Why are you doing this?
STS: We publish the truth about what is happening in Syria on the media [websites] that publish false reports about [the] situation in Syria.
[Reporter's Note: In a previous interview, SEA The Shadow has said there is no civil war in Syria, but only terrorists groups killing people and then blaming it on the army.]
R: What will your group do if the U.S. and its allies launch an attack on Syria?
STS: All American sites will be our targets and we may be more destructive.
R: What do you mean by saying you “may be more destructive” should the U.S. attack? What will you do?
STS: When we hacked [the] media, we did not destroy the site, but only published a message on it if possible or published an article that contains the truth of what is happening in Syria. So if the USA launches an attack on Syria, we may use methods of causing harm, both for the U.S. economy or other.
R: What can you tell me about your group as it is now? How many people are in it now and what type of people are they?
STS: We are all university students [who] live in Syria. [Count] Our numbers by the thousands.
R: What is your position in the group? How did you get involved?
STS: I’m one of the leaders and hackers in the Syrian Electronic Army and since the Syrian crisis has begun [we] gathered [so] that we defend our homeland electronically by publish[ing] the reality of what is happening in Syria on our way.
R: Where did the people in your group come from? How did they gain their computer skills?
STS: We are all Syrians, majority of us live in Syria. Our expertise [we] gained ourselves. For example, I was interested [in] hack[ing] and security before the Syrian events.
R: What about your interaction with the Syrian government?
STS: We do not have any relationship with the Syrian government. We may deliver some sensitive information only for the security apparatus in Syria.
R: Are you working for the Syrian government now? Paid by them?
STS: Of course not, and we do not receive funds for our work. We do our duty to defend our land.
R: Is the group concerned about any possible retaliation from those supporting the other side in the conflict?
STS: Not at all.
R: Is your group supported by any outside players? Does the Iranian government provide any support?
STS: I told you, we’re a group of undergraduates not backed by anyone, even the Syrian government.