The FBI has dismantled Anonymous, the famous hacker collective, as a direct result of the arrest of five high-profile members of LULZ Security in 2012.
That's the claim from assistant special agent in charge Austin P. Berglas, who made the remarks this week to The Huffington Post. Berglas works with the FBI's cyber division in New York, where the Anonymous arrests played out.
A key informant, Sabu, was caught first. He then provided the information that led directly to the other arrests.
It's a classic FBI technique for sowing distrust within underground movements. And it goes back to at least the 1960s Cointelpro operation. In those days, the covert activities were sometimes illegal, and they were often used to undermine morale in civil rights groups including the NAACP.
But the technique can still work.
The 41-year-old FBI agent boasted: "The [Anonymous] movement is still there, and they're still yakking on Twitter and posting things, but you don't hear about these guys coming forward with those large breaches...It's just not happening, and that's because of the dismantlement of the largest players."
But is Anonymous really gone? As you might imagine, the guys yakking on Twitter aren't real happy with the FBI this morning.
In addition to the mandatory tweets of outrage, some known associates of the Anonymous group have come forward in Salon to deny the FBI's Anonymous claims.
A former Anonymous member, Gregg Housh, who is now out in the open as what Salon called "an internet freedom activist" pooh-poohed the FBI statement.
"The idea that they can take out a few people at the top...and then people will be scared is just asinine," he said. "The biggest thing the FBI have done for Anonymous is continue to work in very outdated ways...[that] has only gotten more people willing to...do what they feel is right."
This looks like Bush's "Mission Accomplished" banner: FBI Agent: We've Dismantled The Leaders Of Anonymous http://t.co/gEAbADmls2[Anonymous photo by Pierre-Selim via Wikimedia]
— Gregg Housh (@GreggHoush) August 21, 2013