Michigan church’s website hacked, replaced with pro-ISIL message

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TALLMADGE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When members of the 137-member Lamont Christian Reformed Church near Coopersville went to see what was going on the church website were instead treated to a pro-Islamic State rant.

The defaced website banner claimed the site had been “hacked by the United Cyber Caliphate.” There is an actual group with that named formed this year when several pro-ISIL cyber activist groups came together. In its formation, it said it would commit acts of cyber terror throughout the world and the group claimed responsibility for defacing sites in Russia, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Tennessee.

Elizabeth Storteboom, 15, said she discovered the hack as she was searching for the number for Lamont CRC. When she clicked on the site, a video popped up on the screen. The voice in the video was speaking a different language, but there were subtitles at the bottom with alarming messages.

“It was like talking about like hating Christians and how Allah was like God and everything else, like that. And they’re talking about like taking the women and children and stuff,” she said.

It was a 2014 YouTube video by Abu Muhammad Al-adnani, once an ISIL leader in Iraq until he was reportedly blown up by US-led coalition forces in January. He allegedly continues to recover from severe injuries.

Translated, the video make various threats straight from a comic book villain replete with promises to “break your crosses” and “enslave your women.”

Lamont CRC member Jennifer Bosch, who is in charge of the church’s website, said she was made aware of the hack Friday night. She said she checked the site Thursday and it was fine. She called the FBI who she said advised her to shut down the site, which she did as soon as the company that hosts the site opened Saturday morning.

The site was rebooted and is now back to normal.

Bosch said the FBI did not indicate that there was any reason to be alarmed and told her they would get back to her next week. She said the hack was disturbing, but she is not too worried.

Church staff declined to comment on camera Sunday, but said that while the hack is unsettling, they don’t believe there’s any sort of real threat to parishioners.

There is no definite indication who is responsible for this hack. It could be someone from overseas or some kid down the street engaging in mischief from his parent’s basement.

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