Stewart Scott
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The online activist collective Anonymous posted a message on the Internet on Oct. 31 saying it would continue its campaign against Mexican criminal cartels and their government supporters despite the risks.

The message urged inexperienced activists, who might not be practicing proper online security measures, to abstain from participating. It also urged individuals associated with Anonymous in Mexico not to conduct physical pamphlet drops, participate in protests, wear or purchase Guy Fawkes masks, or use Guy Fawkes imagery in their Internet or physical-world activities. Guy Fawkes was a British Roman Catholic conspirator involved in a plot to bomb the British Parliament on Nov. 5, 1605. The British celebrate the plot’s failure as Guy Fawkes Day each Nov. 5. In modern times, the day has come to have special meaning for anarchists. Since 2006, the style of the Guy Fawkes mask used in the movie “V for Vendetta” has become something of an anarchist icon in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

It was no coincidence, then, that in an Oct. 6 video Anonymous activists set Nov. 5 as the deadline for Los Zetas to release an Anonymous associate allegedly kidnapped in Veracruz. The associate reportedly was abducted during an Anonymous leaflet campaign called “Operation Paperstorm.”

The Oct. 31 message acknowledged that the operation against Los Zetas, dubbed “Operation Cartel,” would be dangerous. It noted that some members of the collective would form a group of trusted associates to participate in a special task force to execute the operation. It asked supporters to pass information pertaining to drug trafficking to the Operation Cartel task force for publication on the Internet via a software tool developed by Anonymous that permits the anonymous passing of information.

When discussing Anonymous, it is important to remember that Anonymous is not a hierarchical organization, but rather a collective of activists. Individuals who choose to associate themselves with the collective frequently disagree over issues addressed by the collective and are free to choose which actions to support and/or participate in.

With Nov. 5 approaching, and at least some elements of Anonymous not backing down on their threats to Los Zetas, we thought it would be useful to provide some context to the present conflict between Anonymous and Los Zetas and to address some of its potential implications.

Context

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Stewart Scott

Stewart Scott is a security analyst for Stratfor.