In a written statement on Monday, the Donald Trump campaign made its position clear on Muslim immigration into the United States. Trump “wants a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The billionaire proposed barring the entry of Muslims shortly after the shooting spree in San Bernardino, California, where 14 people were brutally gunned down by ISIS-influenced husband and wife Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.
“Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why we will have to determine,” Trump said. “Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”
Then on Friday, Trump became a target of Anonymous. Dubbed #OpTrump, the hacker collective declared Trump fair game for his stance on the Muslim immigration ban.
This should sound familiar. Earlier this year, Anonymous doxed the KKK and then announced that it was taking the fight to ISIS. Anonymous’ goal in the KKK operation was to release personally identifying information of alleged members of the white supremacist group. The attack on ISIS, begun shortly after the Paris atrocities, attempted to remove ISIS-affiliated accounts from Twitter and other social media sites.
And now, it has focused on Trump. Earlier this week, Anonymous released a YouTube video with the message: “The more the United States appears to be targeting Muslims, not just radical Muslims, you can be sure that ISIS will be putting that on their social media campaign.” Adding, “Donald Trump think twice before you speak anything. You have been warned, Mr. Donald Trump. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. Expect us.”
On Friday, it followed through with its threat by taking offline the website for Trump Towers, Trump’s ritzy skyscraper in Manhattan that has sometimes been used for his presidential campaign. A tweet from an account associated with Anonymous claimed “Trump Towers NY site taken down as statement against racism and hatred.”
Gabriella Coleman, who is the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University and has studied the hacker group, told CBS News that it’s not surprising Trump is a target. “He’s the biggest bully and the only other bully that’s bigger is possibly trolls and Anonymous,” she said.
Anonymous could begin “hacking into his headquarters or releasing something that exposed some hypocrisy or wrongdoing of some kind. Or get him to comment on something. That is possible when you have a bunch of these groups working on this problem. It’s always hard to know whether they will succeed or not,” she said.
Coleman brings up an interesting point. Is Anonymous — like Donald Trump — a bully? Or is the hacker group more like the schoolyard hero who comes to the aid of those less able to defend themselves? Either way, in the event it does dig up something scandalous and revealing about Trump, I’m not entirely sure it would outdo what he already says in public.