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Anonymous vs. Scientology

March 17, 2008 | 10:25 am

Sidewalk_2 We're on to Round Two in the escalating war between Anonymous, a shadowy Web-based group, and Scientology, the controversial religion Anonymous has been targeting since mid-January. The first salvo, an eerie YouTube video introducing Anonymous and stating its anti-Scientology agenda, got worldwide attention. (And over 2.5 million views so far.)

Now the church has responded with a video of its own

Protests, name-calling, and denial of service attacks sparked charges and counter-charges on both sides. David Sarno of the Times'  Web Scout blog went out to Hollywood over the weekend and watched as church and Anonymous butted heads.

Most noticeable was a series of large metal frameworks that had been erected and decorated with large rainbows of balloons and banners bearing church messages: "Love and Help Children," "Don't be promiscuous" and perhaps most visibly, the name of a Scientology-related book for better living, "The Way to Happiness."   

Scientologists obtained permits to close streets and block access to an event they held, Sarno reports. Anonymous hired a plane to fly overhead for an hour, towing a banner. Read the full post here.

The church claims to know the identities of Anonymous organizers, including local residents. From the N.Y. Post:

Ryan Benno from Valencia, Calif., is shown, as well as Jonathan Brown from Tarzana, Calif., who is making a goofy face in his photo, and Sean Carasov from Los Angeles. None of the men in the videos could be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for the Church of Scientology said, "We absolutely made the videos."

"We have researchers that have found these men. When you get death threats and bomb threats directly going after the church, we don't take it lightly."

The full video response to Anonymous after the jump.

--Veronique de Turenne

Photo -- David Sarno / Los Angeles Times