Anonymous denies Westboro attack

Image caption,
Westboro Baptist Church have staged anti-gay protests at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq

Internet activist group Anonymous has said calls for it to attack the website of controversial anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church were a hoax.

The denial follows a publication on an Anonymous-affiliated website attacking the church.

In a new statement, Anonymous urged members not to participate in any denial-of-service attacks against the church's website.

Anonymous said it had "more pressing matters to deal with at the moment".

The new statement, which claimed to be authored by more than 20 members of Anonymous, said it didn't "remember sending" the original release.

Pimple-faced nerds

Anonymous has risen to fame in recent months for its "hacktivism", which has seen it launch denial-of-service attacks against firms it saw as pursuing policies that are in opposition to its freedom of the web ideals.

The group recently crashed a number of Egyptian government websites, in support of the country's pro-democracy protests.

It also attacked several online companies that it believed had helped clamp down on Wikileaks' activity, including Paypal and Amazon.

Anonymous's informal structure increases the chances that rogue elements can initiate action without widespread support, said Graham Cluley, of security firm Sophos.

Mr Cluley warned that its followers could potentially be led into mounting a major hack under false pretences.

"There are dangers in future that someone may pose as Anonymous and say that they want an attack".

In its latest statement, Anonymous warned its members not to participate in DDoS attacks against Westboro Baptist Church in case it was a trap.

Westboro Baptist Church has been widely condemned for its aggressive anti-homosexual campaigning.

A number of US states have passed legislation, banning members from protesting close to military funerals.

The church's leader, pastor Fred Phelps, was banned from entering the UK by the Home Office in 2009.

The church had issued a response to the original release, branding Anonymous "a puddle of pimple-faced nerds".

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