Patriotic 'Hacktivist' Claims He Took Down Wikileaks Site

Hacker-activist 'The Jester' also says he attacks jihadist websites.

ByABC News
November 30, 2010, 5:08 AM

Nov. 30, 2010 -- A computer hacker is claiming he temporarily disabled the Wikileaks site Sunday afternoon, right as the latest dump of leaked State Department memos were scheduled to publish on the site.

The site was down temporarily on Sunday, the same time the hacker began tweeting he had begun attacking it.

" - TANGO DOWN - for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations," he tweeted late Sunday morning.

"Tango down" is a special forces military term for having eliminated a terrorist.

He goes by the Twitter handle "th3j35t3r", which is leetspeak for "The Jester."

On his website, th3j35t3r calls himself a "hacktivist for good." A "hacktivist" -- a hacker-activist, supposedly hacks for a good cause. His cause is preventing young people from being recruited online by jihadists. He does this by hacking jihadist websites, and temporarily disabling them.

"PS for me personally WL is a sideshow target, I am more interested in the big jihad recruiting and training sites," he said Sunday in a direct message to ABC News via Twitter, referring to hacking the Wikileaks website.

Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of global information technology security software vendor F-Secure, said today that he's familiar with The Jester.

"I don't know this guy, I've never met this guy, I've been running into his attacks because he is fairly visible unlike other attackers, because he documents his attacks, runs his own blog, also tries to explain his motives and reasoning behind the attack," he said. "I've only seen him do denial of service attacks."

Hypponen said today that there's no proof that The Jester is behind the Wikileaks attack. "But he's demonstrated the capability to do an attack like this. He seems to have the motive against Wikileaks, and he claims he did it. I don't think there is much reason to doubt that it was him."

"Wikileaks is being attacked right now, starting three hours ago, and The Jester is being silent so we don't know if the attacks are being done by him or someone else."

ABC News conducted an exclusive interview online with a person calling himself The Jester last month, during which he revealed details of how he takes down sites, and why he does it.

He says the reason he takes down jihadist websites is "multi-fold."

"big thing is the fact that we waste billions on troops risking their lives in the field (hats off)" he writes.

"but the real threat now is the way they can radicalize 'normal' muslims into doing awful stuff on their own countries ground..." he continues, "they can groom. recruit, train, and manourvre, home grown terrorists without ever having to meet them."

He says his aim was "initially to make those sites sporadically unavailable," yet he did not want to tread on the toes of countries' secret services. He says he used an attack tool he developed, "XerXeS", which will "pull down a site at will."

He claims to be a former member of a special operations unit, but provided no details. He says he has worked with U.S. forces, and has the "utmost respect for their conduct in the field."