Update - 10/15/14: ADL alerted Facebook about the “Team System Dz” Facebook page. The page was removed from Facebook by the following day. ADL applauds Facebook's response to the hacker group's effort to exploit its service.
Last week, as Jews were celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, a hacker group calling itself “Team System Dz” attacked the website of Temple Kol Ami Emmanu-El in South Florida, redirecting visitors to a page with messages expressing support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Visitors to the synagogue’s website were directed to statements in English such as “I love you ISIS” and an Arabic statement promising to “never forget about the heroes of the Muslim Ummah [nation] who sacrificed their lives for the sake of God,” an apparent reference to ISIS fighters. Visitors also saw an image of the Star of David crossed out next to the words, “F[ ] You Israel.”
This incident is the latest in a series of attacks against Jewish institutional websites carried out by groups apparently based in the Middle East and North Africa. While past hacking efforts against Jewish institutions have focused on the Israeli Palestinian conflict, more recent attacks against Jewish and non-Jewish targets are being carried out in the name of ISIS.
“Team System Dz” claimed credit for and bragged about its “hacks of Jewish websites especially the website of the Miami temple” on its Facebook page. The claim of credit noted that the attack “coincided with the time of one of the Jewish celebrations [and] created a big noise on media sites.” The group’s Facebook page also claims to have targeted other websites, including other Jewish and Israeli websites around the world.
Yesterday the group threatened additional attacks against American and Israeli websites. “…we will spend all the time for a massive number of attacks on American and Israeli websites, with God’s will they will be hacked. Curse upon America and Israel.”
The group appears to be based in Algeria; its Facebook profile cover image includes the phrase “Proud to be Algerian” and other posts feature Algerian flags and symbols. The “Dz” in the group’s name seems to be a reference to the internet domain designation for Algeria. Furthermore, most announcements on the page are written in the Algerian Arabic dialect.
In addition to “Team System Dz,” the name “Jordan Earthquake” in Arabic was also listed on the page that the temple’s visitors were redirected to. “Jordan Earthquake” appears to be a hacker closely affiliated with “Team System Dz.” Various posts on the group’s Facebook page indicate that “Jordan Earthquake” is a partner in several of its hacking operations.
The “Team System Dz” Facebook page also contains materials prepared by the media bureau of ISIS. The group’s Twitter handle uses several ISIS-related hashtags and includes links to many media accounts about the temple’s website’s hacking.
Jewish websites in the U.S. have become a common target for hacker groups in the Arab and Muslim world. Below is a sampling of attacks launched by various hacker groups against Jewish institutions in the U.S. in the past few years.
- In July 2014, The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail hacker group claimed responsibility for vandalizing the websites of Jewish congregations in Pennsylvania and Houston with messages in support of Gaza.
- In December 2013, the Tunisia based group, Fallaga, hacked the website of the Missouri-based Jewish Radio.
- In July 2013, the website of a Jewish communal high school program in upstate New York was hacked by a member of the Gaza Hackers Team. The website was defaced with anti-Israel messages.
- In December 2012, the Bangladesh Cyber Army hacker group targeted the website of a Temple in Omaha and posted images depicting what the group called “Israel killing children.”
Other hacker groups like aljyyosh (“the armies” in Arabic) claim to have hacked into personal information belonging to American Jews and Israelis and provided instructions on how to hack into such personal information on their various online forums.