A Twitter message from Monday suggests that a seld-proclaimed "hacktivist" using the handle The Jester may have been responsible for knocking the controversial Westboro Baptist Church offline .
In the message , the hacker claimed to have temporarily taken down the public website of the church "for celebrating the death of U.S. troops."
The message, however, made no direct mention if The Jester (@th3j35t3r on Twitter ) was also responsible for the unavailability today of several other websites affiliated to the WBC.
Members of the WBC church, based in Topeka, Kan., are known for their strident anti-gay views and for protests at funerals of slain military personnel and others.
Last week, someone purporting to be from the hacking collective known as Anonymous, posted a letter on an Anonymous site, warning WBC members of attacks against their church public websites if they did not stop their protests.
The letter lamented the "inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism" of the protesters and warned of online attacks that the church would not be able to withstand or recover from.
That letter was later dismissed as a hoax by Anonymous, which has been involved in several high-profile attacks recently, including one against the security firm HBGary .
The WBC didn't immediately return a request for comment. However, an open letter posted by the church earlier this week challenged Anonymous to "Bring It."
"Anonymous is warring with God; very stupid for little boys claiming to be so smart," the letter noted.
This morning, all of the church's sites were unavailable. It is not immediately clear how long the sites have been down and what role, if any, The Jester or Anonymous may have played. There has been no response yet to a Computerworld request for comment from Anonymous members.
The Jester, previously claimed responsibility for launching distributed denial of service attacks against WikiLeaks last year in response to what it claimed was WikiLeaks' role in endangering the lives of U.S. troops.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Read more about cybercrime and hacking in Computerworld's Cybercrime and Hacking Topic Center.