Anonymous has assumed the unlikely role of peacemaker in a growing dispute between Malaysian and Filipino hacktivists that has seen scores of web sites on both sides defaced over a territorial tussle.
Scores have already been killed in bloody clashes in the east Malaysian state of Sabah after a group of nearly 200 Filipino insurgents landed there three weeks ago.
The group claims to be descended from the sultanate of Sulu in the southern Philippines, which ruled parts of the Sabah region in northern Borneo for many years, and wants some of its land back.
The clashes soon went online, as hacktivists on both sides sought to deface web sites in a bid to promote their cause, according to GMA News.
As is often the case with these incidents, most of the sites hit were pretty minor with the only major impact being an irritating outage for a handful of small businesses. Most, including Philippine operator Globe Telecom, are back online now.
At the weekend, a Facebook post from a group claiming to be the “Anonymous #Philippine Cyber Army” listed 16 web sites it claimed to have hacked.
However, a lengthy statement uploaded to Pastebin by “TheAnonCause” seemed to indicate that the hacktivist group had not yet taken official sides on the dispute and asked members to send over documents to prove their territorial claims.
It called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute and an end to “petty fighting”, adding:
We urge those who are joining this argument over a petty cyber-war to stop for this will only provoke further misunderstandings. We urge the collective to research on historical backgrounds to figure out how we can contribute to the resolution careless fighting. Sorry for the inconvenience of this letter, but we are trying to change the world, not seek to destroy it…
We urge our brothers from both countries to sit and talk. Not blabber out words then fight like kids. We have no place for petty arguments and to surrender to provocative actions that we know we can answer with a larger and bolder approach.
This is by no means the first time the region has seen territorial disputes spill over into online skirmishes.
Chinese and Philippine hacktivists exchanged regular fire last year over the former’s claims to a group of rocks known as Scarborough Shoal, 100 nautical miles off the Philippine coast.
However, it’s one of the first times Anonymous has felt the need to step in as peacemaker ... and urge restraint. ®