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Extraordinary courage from an ordinary man

Twitter users honour man who gave his life for others; hacking group chips away at ISIS

TRIBUTES TO A HERO

The Beirut bombing was a terrible tragedy that left at least 43 people dead and more than 230 others wounded.

But the death toll last week could have been far worse were it not for the act of one selfless man.

Instead of running away from danger when suicide bombers struck near a mosque, Mr Adel Termos saved dozens of lives by putting his own on the line.

Witnesses say Mr Termos, a 32-year-old car mechanic and father of two, rushed to tackle the second bomber after seeing him approach a growing crowd.

The intervention reportedly forced the bomber to detonate his suicide vest. Mr Termos died in the blast.

SELFLESS ACT

To make that kind of decision in a split second, to decide that you'd rather save hundreds than to go back home to your family, to decide that the collective lives of those around you are more important than your own is something that I think no one will ever understand.

MR ELIE FARES, a blogger in Beirut, on Mr Adel Termos, who saved dozens of lives by putting his own on the line.

He has been hailed as a hero on social media, with tributes pouring in on Twitter.

"Here's the terrorist attack - and hero - you didn't hear about #BeirutAttacks #AdelTermos," said user Jon Levine.

"Don't let his name be forgotten. #AdelTermos God bless you," another user said.

One of the top posts on Reddit last week showed Mr Termos' young daughter, Malak, looking sombre, holding up a photo of her father.

Initial reports falsely indicated that she too had died in the attack.

"This is so heartbreaking. I'm glad she's alive, and gets to know her dad is a hero," said user SuperDadMan.

In a radio interview, Beirut blogger and physician Elie Fares said Mr Termos "is the reason we are not talking about fatalities in the three digits today, he is the reason some families still have their sons, daughters, fathers and mothers".

"To make that kind of decision in a split second, to decide that you'd rather save hundreds than to go back home to your family, to decide that the collective lives of those around you are more important than your own is something that I think no one will ever understand," he added.

THE TECHNOLOGY RACE ON TERROR

Anonymous has declared war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but has it been effective?

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The hacking group announced earlier last week that it would be unleashing waves of cyberattacks on the terror group in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris.

"War has been declared. We don't forgive and we don't forget," said a man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask in a released video.

So far, the collective's efforts have focused mainly on ISIS-linked Twitter accounts, in an operation codenamed #OpParis. This is part of a concerted effort to shut down the militants' online recruitment operations.

In a YouTube video, a "spokesman" announced that the group has taken down more than 20,000 such accounts.

Under another, older operation codenamed #OpIceISIS, the group claimed to have taken out more than 2,500 ISIS-affiliated sites.

Last Wednesday, Anonymous also released three hacking guides with instructions on using Twitter bots and recognising ISIS-linked websites. The goal, it said, was to get more members of the public to join the cyber war against terror.

ISIS, however, is also escalating its cyber efforts.

According to various reports, the group has issued guidelines to its followers, setting out the dos and don'ts on setting up social media accounts.

ISIS is known to contact users of social media accounts sympathetic to its cause, and move the conversation to "closed" communication platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram in order to escape detection.

NBC News says ISIS has recently set up a 24-hour "help desk" to aid its less tech-savvy foot soldiers.

"What we are talking about is a very deadly game of cat and mouse, where we have a learning, changing, studious enemy," said former FBI assistant director Ron Hosko.

Separately, a Nato official has said the ongoing cyberwar between the two could be "counterproductive", as the authorities track and gather information on radicals via their Twitter accounts.

"It is better, frankly, if Anonymous leaves this type of thing to the authorities of the state who know, frankly, better what the best strategy and the best methodologies are here," he reportedly said.

WHAT WOULD PUTIN SAY?

It was a quote that was too good to be true. "To forgive them is up to God, but to send them to him is up to me," Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly said following the terror attacks.

The quote came from a Tweet posted by Ms Remi Maalouf, a news anchor with television channel Russia Today.

Netizens, many of whom are used to the Russian leader's macho image and hard-line stance, were quick to share it on their social media accounts.

But it turned out to be false.

Ms Maalouf admitted taking the quote off an unverified Facebook post. "This is the danger of social media! I apologise," she said in a later Tweet.

The wrongly attributed quote bore close resemblance to a line in the film Man On Fire, spoken by actor Denzel Washington.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 22, 2015, with the headline 'Extraordinary courage from an ordinary man'. Print Edition | Subscribe