French television network TV5Monde was hacked by individuals claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, forcing the network to halt its broadcasts for several hours. The Paris company partially resumed its TV broadcasts early on Thursday after what its Director General Yves Bigot called an “unprecedented attack.”
“We are no longer able to broadcast any of our channels. Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control and are all displaying claims of responsibility by Islamic State,” Bigot told Agence France-Presse (AFP). Although he later said that the network had regained control of its website and Facebook page, the TV broadcasts would take several hours to return to normal.
The hackers were reportedly part of the CyberCaliphate -- a group that has previously targeted websites of the International Business Times and Newsweek, and the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the United States Central Command (CentCom).
The hackers reportedly uploaded several photos, believed to be personal IDs and resumes of relatives of French soldiers who are participating in the ongoing anti-ISIS operations, to TV5Monde’s Facebook page. The photos were allegedly visible for a short time and then taken down.
“The CyberCaliphate continues its cyberjihad against the enemies of Islamic State,” one of the messages posted by the group on the network’s Facebook page reportedly said. “Soldiers of France, stay away from the Islamic State! You have the chance to save your families, take advantage of it.” The threats were reportedly displayed in French, Arabic and English.
The hackers also accused President Francois Hollande of committing a “grave mistake” by getting involved in the war against ISIS, AFP reported. France is part of an international coalition carrying out airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
“That’s why the French received the gifts of Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher in January,” the hackers said, in one of their messages, referring to the recent attacks in Paris where gunmen killed 17 people over three days.
In recent months, several French nationals have traveled to the conflict-hit zones in the Middle East to join militant groups. According to a report released by the French Senate on Wednesday, nearly half of the over 3,000 known European jihadists who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS are French.