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Rockland man among those indicted in cyberattacks

A Rockland man is one of 13 alleged members of the Internet hacking group Anonymous who are facing charges of carrying out cyberattacks worldwide, including targets that refused to process payments for WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy website founded by Julian Assange.

Thomas J. Bell, along with the other 12 alleged members, faces a charge of conspiring to intentionally cause damage to protected computers.

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Two other New Englanders also have been charged: Geoffrey Kenneth Commander of Hancock, N.H., and Anthony Tadros of Mansfield, Conn., according to documents filed in federal court after the alleged Anonymous members were indicted Thursday.

The US-based members of Anonymous are accused of zeroing in on the computers of governments, trade associations, law firms, financial institutions, and other institutions that oppose the philosophy of Anonymous to make all information free for everyone, regardless of copyright laws or national security considerations.

The indictment filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., says that from September 2010 to January 2011, Anonymous members participated in a campaign they called Operation Payback, using software known as the Low Orbit Ion Cannon to flood websites with huge amounts of Internet traffic to shut them down.

In December 2010, the conspirators discussed possible targets related to WikiLeaks, which received more than 700,000 documents and some battlefield video from Army Private Chelsea Manning, the largest-volume leak of classified material in US history.

Anonymous focused on websites that were either critical of WikiLeaks or had refused to process payments for WikiLeaks, among them MasterCard and Visa. The targets even included the Swedish prosecutor’s office.

Members of Anonymous launched what they called Operation Payback, an attack on the Motion Picture Industry of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and others. The attacks were retaliation against the discontinuation of ‘‘The Pirate Bay,’’ a Sweden-based file sharing website devoted to the illegal downloading of copyrighted material.

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