A member of Anonymous, a loose coalition of hackers, was sentenced yesterday in New York Criminal Court in connection with a Jan. 8, 2009, attack on the Church of Scientology of New York.
Last January, a shirtless Mahoud Samed Almahadin, aka Matt Connor, covered in Vaseline and toenail clippings entered a Manhattan-based Church of Scientology and proceeded to throw around books and smear petroleum jelly onto objects. His actions were videotaped by another Anonymous member and later broadcast on YouTube.
Almahadin pleaded guilty to criminal mischief Feb 23. and has been prohibited from going near the Church of Scientology for five years. He was also sentenced to pay the damages caused by his acts and to perform substantial community service as further restitution for the crime.
Almahadin’s conviction follows the Nov. 18, 2009, sentencing of a New Jersey man for his part in a cyber attack against Church of Scientology websites in January 2008, which was also carried out by Anonymous members.
Dmitriy Guzner, 19, of New Jersey, who in May 2009 pleaded guilty to one count of computer hacking, was sentenced for his role in the distributed denial of service attack against Scientology websites, which made the church websites unavailable to users for more than 24 hours, with attacks continuing for 12 days. Guzner was sentenced to the 366-day prison term, plus two years probation following his prison term, and ordered to pay $37,500 restitution to the church.
On Oct. 31, another Anonymous follower, Brian Thomas Mettenbrink, 20, was indicted by a Grand Jury in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, for his role in the same attack on Scientology websites, for conspiracy and “transmission of a code, information, program, or command to a protected computer.” The indictment states he got a program from an Anonymous website and executed a DDoS attack from his dormroom at Iowa State University against the church computers in Los Angeles.
Speaking of Almahadin’s sentence, Church of Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon said:
“The action against Almahadin is a victory for everyone’s right to peaceably practice their religion. It is a warning to others who desecrate houses of worship and commit hate crimes. It is also the latest blow against Anonymous.”