'Messiah' and others hauled up
Assistant News Editor
INSPIRED by the self-styled "Messiah" hacker, several groups of Singaporeans went online or took to the streets in recent days to make mischief.
Police revealed yesterday there were three reported cases of vandalism in Prinsep Link, Tampines and Woodlands last week, featuring graffiti referring to Anonymous, the loose network of hackers and activists which "The Messiah" claimed to be part of.
In addition, two illegal gatherings linked to Anonymous took place last Tuesday while others hacked into the websites of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Istana on Friday.
The police believe the various groups did not know each other and had worked in isolation. Those identified so far have mostly been young men, with the youngest participant aged 17 years. All are Singaporeans.
The incidents took place on or around Nov 5, the date an attack on government infrastructure was supposed to take place, according to a YouTube video posted by a supposed "comrade" of "The Messiah".
But "The Messiah" was nabbed before this could happen. Yesterday, 35-year-old James Raj Arokiasamy was charged for unauthorised modifications of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council website on Oct 28.
On the run for two years, he was finally caught by Malaysian police on Nov 4 in Kuala Lumpur and sent back to Singapore swiftly. He can be fined up to $10,000 or jailed for up to three years, or both.
Separately, a group of five local men aged between 21 and 26 were charged yesterday for vandalising Sunshine Plaza in Prinsep Link, a pavement in Waterloo Street, and a ramp at Scape in the early hours of Nov 5.
They had spray-painted phrases commonly used by Anonymous: "We are one we are legion expect us!!" and "We R one expect us!"
If found guilty, they can be jailed up to three years or fined up to $2,000, and caned between three and eight strokes.
Police have also fingered a number of suspects for the hackings of the PMO and Istana's sites. Five men aged between 17 and 45 are assisting the police with investigations.
Another 15 youth are assisting the police regarding two recent public gatherings. Aged between 16 and 27, they had responded to online postings on the Million Mask March, a worldwide event held on Nov 5 to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day, despite earlier police warnings that a public assembly without a permit is illegal.
Twelve men had gathered near City Hall MRT station at around 7pm that night, togged in black and red clothes. Three of them wore Guy Fawkes masks.
At about 10.15pm, two other men and a woman were seen with masks in Orchard Road.
A Home Affairs Ministry spokesman yesterday called the hackings and vandalism "separate, illegal and anti-social acts" and added that those found to have carried out criminal acts, threatened or incited others to attack Singapore's communication and technology systems will be taken to task.
The spokesman also called on the community to take a strong stand against such acts, as they disrupt the lives of others and cause unnecessary alarm: "We should not allow the actions of a few to affect our sense of safety and security in Singapore."