Dozens of British Muslims have been left in shock after Russian military intelligence agents launched a 2015 cyber-attack on UK-based TV station the Islam Channel, channel owner Mohamed Ali Harrath said.
The incident at the time gave Kremlin-backed hackers complete control over the broadcaster’s computer networks.
According to the Financial Times newspaper, Russian intelligence had been targeting the channel’s database for a while, going unnoticed until British security services informed channel management of what’s going on in 2015.
Islam Channel is a 24-hour, free-to-air broadcaster based in Ilford in the eastern suburbs of London, but which transmits its programs to Europe, Africa and Asia.
It confirmed at the time that the cyber-attack was launched on a state level and not carried out by the occasional group of amateur surveillance hackers.
Islam Channel is popular among several million Muslims living in Britain.
"Our media success is what drives enmity against us,” he said in a phone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.
“Government statistics show that 60 percent of British Muslims follow the channel's programs,” added Harrath.
“Although we have changed the cyberinfrastructure of the station, which costs a lot of money, we may still be hacked,” Harrath, a Tunisian Islamist, told Asharq Al Awsat.
Harrath brands Islam Channel as “a voice for those without a voice” or “the voice of the oppressed.”
“We are the first English-speaking broadcaster transmitting from the heart of Europe,” he added.
Islam Channel reaches up to 100 countries worldwide. It airs on eight different satellites across five continents. There are 30 million Muslims in Russia watching around-the-clock programs aired by the channel, Harrath said.
“Since the station launched, we provided coverage for many Islamic activities in Russia, including the Holy Quran Award in Moscow in 2015, and never attacked Russian interests or policies around the world,” he added.
“Russian intelligence hackers were in control of everything. They could see everything we were doing, and we could not send and receive e-mails within weeks, leaving us feeling helpless.”
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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