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January 6, 2015 5:07 pm

Islamic Extremists Hack UK School Website and Post Hate Messages Against Israel, US

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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A screenshot of the hate message the group X-Saad posted on the website of a primary school and church. Photo: Daily Mail.

A group of Islamic extremists hacked the websites of a United Kingdom school and church and replaced their homepages with a hate message against the US and Israel, the Daily Mail reported on Tuesday.

A group that calls itself X-saad infiltrated the sites of Sowerby Community Primary School and the Danish Church of Hull, both in Yorkshire. They posted on the homepages a picture of the US and Israeli flags with a red “X” struck through them. The image is on a black backdrop, similar to an Islamic State flag, and has English writing in red and Arabic script in white.

The statement on the photos reads: “We Hackers We defend our religion, we do not forget we are without limits we do not believe in the laws. Islam is not a terrorist religion but Islam is the religion of coexistence and mercy and love, the real terrorists are Israel and america.”

The school has since removed the image from its website and the North Yorkshire Police have launched an investigation into the hacks, which they believe took place Monday night. The church is working with its website’s creator to have the message removed, the Daily Mail noted.

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Police said there is nothing suggesting that the school was deliberately targeted.

“We believe that the Sowerby Primary School website had unauthorized content posted by a virus which seeks out servers with weak security software,” North Yorkshire Police said in a released statement on Tuesday. Inspector Chris Galley added that similar incidents had occurred recently. X-saad is also believed to be responsible for hacking a church website in Australia, the Daily Mail reported.

“Other organizations and businesses both locally, nationally and internationally have had their websites compromised in a similar manner in recent months and there is no suggestion that Sowerby Primary School was deliberately targeted in any way,” he said. “The school have now removed their website and inquiries to establish the origin of the content are ongoing.”

“It is important that all organizations with a public facing website ensure that they have sound security software in place to reduce the risk of similar incidents occurring,” he added.

Both governors and police officers attended the school on Tuesday morning to reassure families of its safety. Pete Dwyer, North Yorkshire’s Corporate Director of the Children and Young People’s Service said, “We are reassured by the police in this case that this was a random breach and that children are not at any risk.”

“We have been working closely with the police on this matter,” he added. “Our schools place great importance on website security but we understand that despite all best efforts public and corporate websites can be compromised in this way from time to time.”

One mother, frightened by the hack, decided to keep her children at home on Tuesday.

“I only briefly looked at the website at my friend’s house over the road but as soon as I saw the flag at the top I immediately thought it was some terror related thing,” said the 31-year-old parent, who chose to remain anonymous. “I didn’t read the message. I think my main fear was of the unknown, you didn’t know what it was and you wanted to be sure to be safe. I didn’t know if it was a prank and I didn’t know if it was a terror thing.”

Torben Jorgenson, pastor at the Danish Church in Hull, said he was shocked and upset when he found out about the hacking. He explained that the church’s website is “a friendly one” and is used to post information about social and cultural events. The church does not want it to be used “to promote this radical and political message,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “It is like a thief coming into your home when they are not invited.”

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