The hacker who claimed responsibility for both the Gamma Group and Hacking Team breaches has struck again, this time sending €10,000 of allegedly stolen Bitcoin to Rojava, an autonomous region in northern Syria that they described as “one of the most inspiring revolutionary projects in the world today.”
The hacker, who goes by the pseudonyms “Phineas Phisher,” “Hack Back!” and “@GammaGroupPR,” declined to name the victims of the heist, saying he’d “rather not yet, since there’s hopefully a few orders of magnitude more on the way.”
If true, Rojava could soon be the beneficiary of a cool million in Bitcoin.
Considered by neighbouring Turkey as a haven for the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a group designated by the US State Department as a “terrorist organisation” which seeks to create an independent Kurdish homeland, Rojava is not, on closer inspection, that easy to pigeonhole.
An in-depth investigation by The New York Times last year found stark contrasts with ISIL/Daesh, with whom Rojava are at war, including a constitution that mandates gender equality and freedom of religion.
Cut off from foreign trade by the conflict with ISIL/ISIS/Daesh and a hostile Turkey, the region is struggling to feed itself, and seeks donations to purchase farm equipment, according to theircrowdfunding page.
“We are currently extremely busy and it is sometimes hard to get online, this being a warzone and all,” Deniz Tarî, from Rojava Plan, told Ars by e-mail. “You can see the payments made to our campaign on the campaign page. You can also check our Bitcoin address, which is public.”
The page lists a €10,000 donation by “Hack Back!”. The Rojava Plan’s Bitcoin address received a 25 BTC transaction timestamped 2016-05-05. At current market prices that’s around €10,000 or £8,000.
“And for what we will do with the money,” Tarî added, “you can also check our campaign page where we have a rough description of where the money is going.”
The crowdfunding campaign has received just over €26,000 at the time of writing, and includes a plan to purchase, among other things, two trucks, a small bulldozer, and a hangar. Their stated goal is to recycle human and animal waste as ecological fertiliser for the region’s wheat farms.
“They’re in an incredibly difficult situation, with ISIS on one side and US ally Turkey embargoing and attacking them on the other,” the hacker told Ars. “Yet, in a part of the world the West likes to look down on as a backwards shithole, they’re building a society that takes ‘Western’ values like democracy and feminism to lengths that put the West to shame. All while fighting ISIS and winning, unlike the US trained and supplied Iraqi army.”