FBI launches probe of online vandalism

Times Staff Writer

The FBI launched an investigation Wednesday after a hacker broke into the website of a Southern California organization of Islamic religious leaders, leaving an expletive-laced message against Muslims.

The person attacked the website of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California late Tuesday, said the group’s executive director, Shakeel Syed. The Anaheim-based group is a coalition of imams and religious leaders from 75 mosques. Syed said the site was shut down but is expected to be in operation today.

“It was very nasty graffiti. It’s another incident and proof that Islamophobia is alive and healthy,” Syed said.

The FBI was notified and an investigation was opened, said spokeswoman Laura Eimiller, who declined further comment.


Syed said he had received dozens of e-mails denouncing the vandalism.

“I’m praying that the hacker’s heart becomes filled with love,” wrote one supporter. Said another: “We stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers and with all who are committed to ending violence and bigotry.” Both writers described themselves as Christians.

Syed said that area mosques have been receiving a steady number of hate messages in recent months in phone calls and e-mails.

“This is only the latest in an ongoing saga,” he said. “You learn to live with it and hope you can change someone’s views through your actions as a human being and a Muslim. We’re truly heartened by the support we have received from Muslims and non-Muslims.”