UPDATE, 10/5/11: AnonOps members have responded to the allegations made against them, accusing Ryan of "bullying" other users with the therat of an alleged botnet, in a detailed interview with thinq_. Read it here (opens in new tab).
A self-styled Anonymous "splinter group" that has seized control of two sites used by the 'hacktivist' collective to organise Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and other operations have revealed their intentions in an exclusive interview with thinq_.
'Ryan', a former member of network staff on AnonOps.net and AnonOps.ru, says that he and and a number of other disgruntled members seized control of the sites (opens in new tab) because they believed AnonOps had become too centralised.
They accuse a small elite within the organisation of "behind-the-scenes string-pulling", abusing their power by setting themselves up in a leadership role.
The group condemns 'Owen', a key figure in this leadership cabal, as being "incredibly incompetent", stating that had been "abusing the fact that people use his platform".
Owen and others, the group said, had "crossed the barrier, involving themselves in a leadership role," adding: "That's not how things were set up."
Debunking as "bullshit" the idea that AnonOps was a democratic, leaderless organisation, the group talked of a "cult of personality", telling thinq_ that a self-appointed leadership of ten users called the shots from a dedicated IRC channel.
"There is a hierarchy. All the power, all the DDoS - it's in that channel."
Ryan admits that he had been responsible for leaking the IP addresses of users of the sites when he seized control, describing the move as "regrettable but necessary". The sites were a cornerstone of AnonOps' operational capabilities, providing what users believed was a secure communications channel for Anonymous operations via IRC chat.
"The only way to make things safe is to make users aware how insecure it is," claims Ryan - ironically echoing his adversaries' advice to steer clear of the unprotected sites.
The group blames the group's centralisation on the publicity given to Anonymous's exploits, which include high-profile attacks in support of whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks, and the targeting of anti-piracy groups under the banner of Operation Payback.
"The media is part of the problem. It's why AnonOps still exists," they told thinq_.
According to Ryan and two other former supporters, 'Garrett' and 'Chippy1337', the publicity-hungry cabal behind AnonOps had begun engaging in operations simply to grab headlines. They accuse the group's leaders of "using the PR machine that is AnonOps" to feed their own egos.
"Their power was wasted on stupid operations," thinq_ was told.
So which operations, did the group think, had been a step too far?
"I was never a fan of OpSony, for instance," replied Garrett.
The splinter group questioned the motives of Owen and other figures within this leadership, claiming: "They just like seeing things destroyed."
Asked directly whether users identifying themselves with Anonymous were behind the recent hacking of the Sony's PlayStation Network, in which more than 100 million users' details were stolen, the group was more circumspect.
"I don't believe Anonymous people were responsible for the Sony PSN outage," said Garrett, but added: "Even if they were, it was planned behind closed doors. No one's going to admit to that. It's way too hardcore. The FBI will be involved. I doubt if that will ever come out."
The aim of this splinter group, said Ryan, was to destroy AnonOps in its current form, aiming for it to be replaced by ad hoc protests on single issues.
"I hope that people will spread out... Users should find new groups, new causes," the group said.
And, if their claims are to be believed, they may be successful.
Ryan claims the new splinter faction holds "the majority of the firepower" used in earlier attacks such as the DDoS unleashed against Sony.
"We can't imagine them doing any damage any more," he said.
If the group has its way, this may be the end for AnonOps in its current form, but they predict a new, more vibrant life for Anonymous - one against which the big businesses and governments that provoke its ire will find it even more difficult to protect themselves.
"You can't kill something like that," Ryan said. "More groups will pop up. Probably many different ones. AnonOps just won't be the flagship."