Mark Townsend, Paul Harris, Alex Duval Smith, Dan Sabbagh, Josh Halliday
London Guardian 
Dec 12, 2010
He is one of the newest recruits to Operation Payback. In a London bedroom, the 24-year-old computer hacker is preparing his weaponry for this week’s battles in an evolving cyberwar. He is a self-styled defender of free speech, his weapon a laptop and his enemy the US corporations responsible for attacking the website WikiLeaks.
He had seen the flyers that began springing up on the web in mid-September. In chatrooms, on discussion boards and inboxes from Manchester to New York to Sydney the grinning face of a Guy Fawkes mask had appeared with a call to arms. Across the world a battalion of hackers was being summoned.
“Greetings, fellow anons,” it said beneath the headline Operation Payback. Alongside were a series of software programs dubbed “our weapons of choice” and a stark message: people needed to show their “hatred”.
Like most international conflicts, last week’s internet war began over a relatively modest squabble, escalating in days into a global fight.
Before WikiLeaks, Operation Payback’s initial target was America’s recording industry, chosen for its prosecutions of music file downloaders. From those humble origins, Payback’s anti-censorship, anti-copyright, freedom of speech manifesto would go viral, last week pitting an amorphous army of online hackers against the US government and some of the biggest corporations in the world.