Just hours before the start of Formula 1’s practice session at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Anonymous brought down the official F1 website in a denial of service (DoS) attack. The hacker collective said the attack was in support of Bahrain’s protest movement, which was crushed last year by the minority Sunni monarchy.
Before bringing the entire website down, Anonymous posted a message on fan site f1-racers.net, condemning Bahrain King Hamad bin al-Khalifa for what they called “murder.”
“Not only is the Human Rights situation in Bahrain tragic, it becomes more drastic with each passing day. For these reasons the F1 Grand Prix in Bahrain should be strongly opposed. The Al Khalifa regime stands to profit heavily off the race and has promised to use live ammunition against protestors in preparation,” read the statement posted to formula1.com, signed, “We Do Not Forgive. We Do Not Forget. Expect Us.0x0 was and still is here. Join #OpBahrain.”
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One of a handful of Twitter accounts closely associated with the collective also announced Anonymous’ support for the Bahraini uprising and confirmed that Formula 1 websites were indeed hacked by Anonymous.
Anonymous has pledged to keep the official Formula 1 website down for the entirety of the race weekend. As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, formula1.com was still down intermittently.
Bahrain’s protesters are attempting to seize an opportunity presented by the Formula 1 race to bring their protest movement back into the limelight of the international press. Largely forgotten by western media outlets, anti-government activists in Manama and elsewhere are still attempting to bring down the minority Sunni al-Khalifa regime that began brutally cracking down on protesters early last year.
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In preparation for potential race day protests, Manama denied visas to a large number of foreign journalists attempting to cover the competition.
Clashes between protesters and security forces have been ocurring in Bahrain sporadically for months. The unrest has intensified in the lead-up to the F1 race, including riot police clashing with opposition supporters in predominantly Shiite villages in the Manama suburbs.
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Earlier this year, Anonymous hacked the website belonging to a US-based munitions manufacturer known to have sold anti-riot weapons to oppressive regime around the Arab world. The collective simultaneously brought down Bahrain’s official website in support of the country’s “forgotten” protest movement.
The collective is continuing to show support for demonstrators in Syria and Bahrain, two protests movements that Anonymous hopes to continue to aid in overthrowing the Assad and al-Khalifa regimes.