Old Dominion Student Newspaper Website Hacked by Group Protesting Killing of Muslims

The Mace and Crown became the El Moujahidin for roughly 24 hours beginning Sunday night. Unknown vandals hacked the website of the Old Dominion University student newspaper, replacing its regular site with a single webpage sporting a black backdrop, a red skull-faced winged creature emblem and messages supporting Palestine and denouncing the killing of Muslims.

Upon learning of the site’s takeover yesterday evening, editors worked with the web hosting company GoDaddy to get the protest page removed — forcing them to also temporarily shut down the site. As of this posting, the site was not yet live and back to normal. In a brief statement released via a Google Doc, Mace and Crown editors referred to the individuals who caused this trouble as being part of “an Algerian hacker group.”

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A screenshot of the hacked homepage, live online for roughly 24 hours beginning Sunday night.

A partial screenshot of The Mace and Crown homepage from December 2014 via archive.org.

A partial screenshot of The Mace and Crown homepage from December 2014 via archive.org.

A local news report details the hacked page’s content: “The message stated the group would continue hacking websites to draw attention to ‘the message of our Palestine and all Arabs.’ It also stated, ‘We Dont Accept Killing Muslims Every Where, Stop Killing US.’ The text seemed to indicate the hackers were located in Algeria, and used the hashtag “’Free Hamza Bendelladj’ to reference an Algerian national extradited to the U.S. in 2013 for federal cyber crime charges. Beneath the text were links to the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A tweet posted by the group Thursday morning stated ‘El Moujahidin with ISIS.'”

The Mace and Crown is apparently one of several news outlets in the U.S. and UK that this group has targeted in recent months. It is unclear why the paper may have been singled out. Separately, although the outlet is independent from ODU, the school’s IT team and administrators have been in touch and helping the staff.

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