The hacktivist collective Anonymous has released what it claims to be a cache of personal details of members of the Westboro Baptist Church, after members of the extremist religious group said on Twitter that they would picket Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the scene of a mass shooting where 26 children and adults were killed on Friday.
Supporters of Anonymous appeared to have taken down the extremist group’s website, most likely through a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack. They also posted a YouTube video (above) threatening to “destroy” the group.
Westboro is a small extremist group based in Topeka, Kansas, notorious for picketing the funerals of soldiers and victims of shootings with signs and banners claiming tragic events are God’s punishment for the existence of homosexuality.
A document posted on Pastebin claims to reveal physical addresses of the group’s founding Phelps family, telephone numbers, even a social security number, and background information on the group. It's unclear how public these personal details already were for Westboro’s members, given their controversial activities.
A representative of Westboro, believed to be its regular spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper, also carried out a Reddit IAmA, or “Ask Me Anything,” earlier Sunday under the nickname GodSentCTShooter, not surprisingly meeting few questions and plenty of irritation from Redditors.
This isn’t the first time Westboro and Anonymous have clashed. In February 2011 a supporter of Anonymous took part in a radio debate with Shirley Phelps-Roper, during which a small group of hackers surprised Roper by taking down several parts of Westboro’s site during the show.