By Brian Messenger
---- — METHUEN — The internationally-known hacker activist group Anonymous targeted the city’s computer systems over the weekend, Mayor Stephen Zanni told city councilors last night.
Zanni said the city was targeted in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a Methuen High School student. The arrest of 18-year-old Cameron Dambrosio last week for threatening on Facebook to outdo the Boston Marathon bombings has made widespread headlines.
Anonymous is a global hacking collective that has taken credit for past cyber-attacks on government agencies, private companies and others, including the FBI, U.S. Department of Justice, Motion Picture Association of America and Westboro Baptist Church.
Homeland security officials have also reportedly warned American government and financial institutions about an anticipated wave of attacks slated for this week by Anonymous-linked “hacktivists” based in the Middle East and North Africa.
Zanni told councilors last night that Anonymous got “very upset” about the arrest. He offered no other details about how or why the group targeted city computers, other than to say: “That was dealt with over the weekend. Thank God we’re OK.”
Zanni did not return multiple calls seeking further comment after the meeting. Police Chief Joseph Solomon declined comment last night.
Dambrosio, of 19 Glen Ave., has been charged with the felony offense of communicating a terrorist threat. He is in Middleton jail awaiting a dangerousness hearing Thursday and was held without bail following his arraignment last week.
Dambrosio was arrested May 1 on Pleasant Street after a violent Facebook post he wrote was brought to the attention of Methuen High Athletic Director James Weymouth.
“Don’t (expletive) cry or be worried because all YOU people (expletive) caused this (expletive). (Expletive) a boston bombing wait till u see the (expletive) I do, Ima be famous for rapping, and beating every murder charge that comes across me!” wrote Dambrosio, according to a copy of his Facebook post included with a police report.
Dambrosio admitted to writing the post after his arrest, police said. His charge carries a penalty of 20 years in jail. And while the threat was not directed at a specific person or target, it was still a general threat of violence and terrorism, officials said.
Police also searched Dambrosio’s home following his arrest and seized an Xbox 360 gaming console, two Xbox 360 hard drives and a Dell MTC 2 computer tower. The devices will be searched by the state police.
No weapons or explosives were found in the search. Last week, Solomon said police have not found definite or substantive plans to attack people or places, and he does not believe other people are involved.