Declassified Israeli intelligence reports issued this week report that both Iran and Hamas have made a coordinated strategic decision to make extensive use of the Internet to wage their battle for hearts and minds.
Between October 22 and 31, the second annual National Exhibition and Festival of Digital Media was held in Tehran. Hamas and Hezbollah participated, each with its own booth.
According to a report from a Hamas Web site, Hamas’ main Palestinian site, Palestine-info, which can be accessed in Arabic, Farsi, Russian, English, French, Urdu and Malay was featured.
Also featured were Hamas’ Filastin al-‘An, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa TV, PALDF Forum and Sabiroon Web sites, among others. At the booth it was possible to receive propaganda bulletins, scarves and hats.
At the exhibition, Hamas erected a hall in its booth for discussions with Abu Osama Abd al-Muati, the Hamas representative in Tehran, and attended by Abu Srur, responsible for propaganda dispensed from the Hamas bureau in Tehran, and experts and political commentators.
The discussions revolved around topics linked to the “battle for hearts and minds,” with an emphasis on the interface between the Internet and terrorism. Issues discussed included, “the role of digital media in the support of the resistance (i.e., the terrorist organizations),” “Hamas and digital media,” “the role of digital media in supporting Al-Aqsa mosque,” “the siege of Gaza and the responsibility of the Muslim community of believers.”
A ceremony was held at the Hamas booth to inaugurate an organization called the Digital Intifada. The ceremony was covered by the Arab and Iranian media and attended by Abu Osama Abd al-Muati, Hamas’ representative in Tehran; Abu Hassan Zuaytar, director of Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV in Tehran; members of Hamas and Hezbollah propaganda teams; and representatives of Iranian groups acting in the Palestinian arena.
An added feature of the exhibition was a booth that featured the “Digital Intifada,” organized in conjunction with Hamas involvement. Its objective: to develop Web sites to battle against Israel (“the Zionist entity”) and to raid pro-Israeli internet sites.
The new organization offered a prize of $2,000 to anyone who succeeded in hacking into an Israeli site “hostile to the Palestinian people” during the exhibition.
The objective of the hacker competition, according to Abu Srur, head of propaganda for the Hamas bureau of information, is “to prevent the spread of terrorist Zionist opinions.” He said that the Zionist organizations were determined to influence world public opinion, especially in the Muslim countries, through websites in various languages, to “minimize the Palestinian problem.”
According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, “hacking into Zionist Web sites has become a necessity, which cannot be avoided.”
Meanwhile, the director of al-Manar TV in Tehran said in a speech that “the information war is a continuation of conventional warfare.” He said that young Iranians, Palestinians and Lebanese had established “an effective trench in the field of digital communications capable of withstanding a general Zionist attack.” The so-called Digital Intifada group announced its objectives: producing computer games about fighting Zionism, coordinating between the forums supporting the Palestinian cause, opening a digital library about the “occupation of Palestine ” and establishing battalions of digital resistance fighters to battle the “Zionist entity.”