January 16, 2015
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Anonymous isn’t doing anything new by hacking Islamic extremist websites. A mysterious figure known as “The Jester” has been at it for five years.
Jester has single-handedly taken down dozens of websites that, he deems, support jihadist propaganda and recruitment efforts. He stopped counting at 179.
To some, he’s an Internet superhero. Think Batman, with all the vengeance-laden moral qualms of vigilantism included.
“I realized something needed to be done about online radicalization and ‘grooming’ of wannabe jihadis, and we didn’t have mechanisms to deal with it,” Jester said in an interview with CNNMoney. “I decided to start disrupting them.”
Little is actually known about Jester, other than his public persona on Twitter as @th3j35t3r: He is unapologetic, unabashedly pro-America and full of military jargon.
Jester first appeared on Twitter on Dec. 19, 2009. Since then, he’s used his computer hacking skills to shut down, deface or expose anything he considers threatening to the United States — especially if it endangers soldiers. If a legitimate company is hosting the site, it usually gets a brief warning before he attacks.
The Jester’s first ever tweet. He’s sent out another 10,000 since.
Consider his one-man operation on June 18, 2014. It was a Wednesday evening and out of the blue, Jester sent a public message via Twitter to GloboTech Communications, a company in eastern Canada that hosts websites.
“You are hosting fajer.info… which provides material support (inc mobile apps) to #ISIS terrorists,” he warned, identifying a specific computer server.
At 9:19 p.m., Jester followed up with his signature threat: “I respectfully urge u to review my last 2 tweets. U should take action, or if you prefer, I can. #30mins #TickTock”
Half an hour later, the jihadist website was knocked offline, and Jester delivered his catchphrase: “TANGO DOWN.”
Five years of this has made him something of an Internet celebrity. Fans buy hats and T-shirts sporting his jester face logo or catchphrase. He has racked up nearly 58,000 followers on Twitter. His laptop is on display at the The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.