A hacker who claimed responsibility for the Hacking Team and Gamma Group breaches has sent €10,000 of stolen bitcoin to the autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria, according to arstechnica.co.uk.
Using the pseudonyms “Hack Back!” and “Phineas Phisher” and “@GammaGroupPR,” the hacker indicated an unwillingness to name the victims since there is hope of “a few orders of magnitude more on the way.”
The hacker described Rojava as one of the most inspiring revolutionary projects in the world.
Rojava is not easy to define since the area neighbors a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) haven that the U.S. State Department has called a terrorist organization. The PKK seeks to create an independent Kurdish homeland.
The New York Times last year reported significant contrasts with ISIL/Daesh, a group that has been warring with Rojava. One contrast is a constitution mandating freedom of religion and gender equality.
The region has struggled to feed itself and seeks donations for farm equipment, according to a crowdfunding page. Conflicts with ISIL/Daesh and with Turkey has cut the region from foreign trade.
Deniz Tari, from Rojava Plan, emailed Ars that the group is busy and finds it hard at times go to get online. The campaign page notes payments have been made to the group, Tari noted. The bitcoin address is public.
The page lists a €10,000 donation from “Hack Back.” A transaction for 25 bitcoin, date stamped 5-5-2016 was sent to the Rojava Plan bitcoin address.
Tari said people can send checks to the campaign and find out where the money is going.
Campaign Wins Donations
The campaign has received more than €26,000 at this report, including a plan to purchase a small bulldozer, a hangar and two small trucks. One goal is to recycle human and animal waste as ecological fertilizer for wheat farms.
The hacker told Ars that the group is in a difficult situation with U.S. ally Turkey on one side and ISIS on the other. Turkey has embargoed the group.
While the West likes to view this part of the world as backwards, the people there are creating a society that takes values such as feminism and democracy to degrees that put the West to shame, the hacker said.
The group is also winning in its fight against ISIS, unlike the U.S.-trained and supplied army of Iraq, the hacker added.
In addition to supporting Rojava, the hacker donated money to draw media coverage to the region, an area that too often defaulted to a “gimmicky article about women fighting in ISIS” with a picture of a woman with a gun.
A Model Libertarian Movement?
Rojava should be compared to libertarian revolutions or anarchist movements such as the Ukrainian Free Territory, the Paris Commune, the Spanish Civil War, the Zapatistas, CIP-FRM, APPO, the Seattle General Strike of 1991 and autonomous Shinmin, the hacker noted.
Rojava is bounded to the south and west by the Euphrates River and to the East by Iraq. It stretches the Syrian-Turkish border for about 400 kilometers. The sections are divided by nearly 100 kilometers of ISIL-controlled territory.
John Kirby, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, told Reuters in March the U.S. does not support self-ruled, semi-autonomous zones inside Syria.
“If you do talk about [Rojava’s] politics, misrepresent them as a Kurdish nationalist movement fighting to establish a Kurdish state,” the hacker told Ars. “Because of course a neoliberal ‘democratic’ state is what any freedom-loving people would want.”
Professor Gives Perspective
David Graeber, a London School of Economics professor, visited Rojava in December 2014 and said he agreed with the hacker’s view that the region strongly resembles prior anarchist movements. The difference being that Rojava is a radical, anti-authoritarian movement that is “supereffective” militarily.
Graeber did not accept the idea that the funds would support something besides purchasing farm equipment. He said they have dire economic needs, but militarily, they are getting what they need from Russia and the U.S., even though those countries will not admit this.
Graeber said Rojava gets most weapons from ISIS since it has better fighters. Tari stressed the point that Rojava Plan is not part of the region’s military.
Tari told Ars the plan is part of the economic committee for civil, not military, projects. If it gets a million Euros, it will use it to fund other projects such as the Kurdish Ubuntu distro and earthbags for construction.
Amnesty International Raises Issues
Amnesty International in October 2015 raised questions in a report on Rojava, concluding the group’s military was razing of villages amounted to war crimes.
Lama Fakih, a senior crisis advisor at Amnesty International, said the autonomous administration has abused its authority and flouted international law by intentionally destroying civilian homes and in some cases razing complete villages and displacing people with no justifiable military purpose.
Asked if the bitcoin donation could support further war crimes, the hacker said the Amnesty International report is misleading. He said Amnesty International interviewed groups actively fighting Rojava’s military. He said people fled fighting that destroyed villages, an action that became interpreted as forcibly displacing people and razing their village.
He also said Rojava is not solely a Kurdish revolution as there are many Arabs living there. He said both Rojava and Arabs living there released statements condemning the Amnesty International report.
Graeber said when he was in Rojava, people told him they were anti-capitalist, but they have learned that they can’t destroy it until they get rid of the state, which requires getting rid of the patriarchy. This is why there are a lot of women soldiers.
Graeber said one of the first places his guides took him to was a police academy, where the goal was to give everyone six weeks of police training, then abolishing the police.
The U.S. State Department declined to comment for this story.
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