A group calling itself the CyberCaliphate made headlines in 2015 by threatening the spouses of military service members here in America and by attacking media organizations in France, but it appears that the CyberCaliphate actually consisted of the same Russian hackers who interfered in the 2016 election.
The Associated Press reports that threats and hacks carried out in the U.S. and France in the name of the CyberCaliphate were a false flag carried out by Putin's troll farm.
Proof that the military wives were targeted by Russian hackers is laid out in a digital hit list provided to the AP by the cybersecurity company Secureworks last year. The AP has previously used the list of 4,700 Gmail addresses to outline the group’s espionage campaign against journalists, defense contractors and U.S. officials. More recent AP research has found that Fancy Bear, which Secureworks dubs “Iron Twilight,” was actively trying to break into the military wives’ mailboxes around the time that CyberCaliphate struck.
Lee Foster, a manager with cybersecurity company FireEye, said the repeated overlap between Russian hackers and CyberCaliphate made it all but certain that the groups were linked.
CyberCaliphate faded from view after the TV5 Monde hack, but the over-the-top threats issued by the gang of make-believe militants found an echo in the anti-Muslim sentiment whipped up by the St. Petersburg troll farm — an organization whose operations were laid bare by a U.S. special prosecutor’s indictment earlier this year.
When I first read this story, I immediately thought of former CIA director Michael Hayden's recent assertion that Russians helped spread fears of Operation Jade Helm in Texas in 2015.
The threats to military spouses and attacks on the French media also occurred in the spring of 2015 and now, in hindsight, these looks like dry-runs for interfering in the presidential election.
You have to wonder how much anti-Muslim sentiment the actions of a fake "Caliphate" group secretly run by Russians has contributed to. And how many other fake groups are out there?