For immediate release | Monday, June 15, 2020

Extremist Content Online: ISIS Supporters Skirt Barriers On Telegram

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Telegra.ph Feature Enables Spread Of Pro-ISIS Propaganda

(New York, N.Y) – The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit the Internet and social media platforms to recruit followers and incite violence. Last week, ISIS supporters circumvented efforts by Telegram to disrupt and slow the spread of ISIS content on its platform and continued to disperse ISIS propaganda using the messaging app’s Telegra.ph feature. Also, a pro-ISIS cyber security group, Electronic Horizons Foundation, released a guide for using the Hoop Messenger platform. Meanwhile, neo-Nazis uploaded a video to Telegram and YouTube of various individuals harassing and threatening Black Lives Matter protesters in Knoxville, Tennessee. Finally, CEP researchers located two videos from the white supremacist group Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) on YouTube as well as a video message from the cofounder of the white supremacist movement, Rise Above Movement (RAM), advocating for white vigilantism.

ISIS Supporters Continue to Use Telegram Features To Spread Propaganda

Despite several crackdowns by Telegram intended to curb ISIS supporters from using their communications app, the group’s propaganda is still spreading via the platform’s Telegra.ph feature. Telegra.ph functions similarly to a bulletin board, allowing users to share content with individuals who do not have Telegram accounts. CEP researchers located several pieces of ISIS content on Telegra.ph the week of June 6 to June 12, including a photoset from Anbar Province in Iraq, showing executions and captured weapons, the aftermath of an attack on a military facility in Nigeria, and Amaq News releases. In an example of a cross platform propaganda effort, two additional ISIS Telegra.ph pages showing the aftermath of executions in Iraq and Syria were posted on a pro-ISIS channel on the Rocket Chat platform on June 10. In addition to ISIS content, CEP researchers have previously located extreme right content on Telegra.ph, including instructions for making explosives.

Pro-ISIS Cyber Security Group Releases Guide For Hoop Messenger

On June 7, the pro-ISIS tech group Electronic Horizons Foundation (EHF) released a guide for using Hoop Messenger. The guide includes information on Hoop’s overall capabilities and features, as well as security warnings regarding the app. EHF warned that users should be cautious of using Hoop, as it is owned by a Canadian company. EHF also warned that users should disable specific features of the app and further warned that social media and communications companies turn over information to law enforcement. EHF was created in 2016 in order to provide cybersecurity and web technical assistance to ISIS supporters. The EHF site uses Cloudflare as its name server.

Neo-Nazis Spread Video Showing Harassment Of Protestors In Knoxville, Tennessee

A neo-Nazi spread a video of himself and other individuals harassing and threatening Black Lives Matter protesters in Knoxville, Tennessee. In the video, which was posted on Telegram and YouTube, an individual shouts from a vehicle using a bullhorn, yelling numerous racist, homophobic, transphobic, and anti-Semitic harassing statements in an attempt to foment a reaction from the crowd. At one point the individual with the bullhorn threatens to shoot protestors if they attempt to attack the vehicle.

The individual with the bullhorn who is seen in the video operates a Telegram channel and a board on an 8chan successor website where he spreads neo-Nazi anti-civilization beliefs. The individual is known for traveling around the country in a converted bus, advocating for sexual violence against women and violence against people of color, and boxing with other white supremacists.

The YouTube video had over 35,000 views on June 11, however it is likely that many viewers oppose the beliefs of those appearing in the video. The video had over 800 comments, with the top 25 comments sorted by likes endorsing the actions of the video creators and praising them. The video as a whole had over 2,000 likes and only 121 dislikes on June 11.

Russian Imperial Movement Videos Located On YouTube

CEP researchers located two Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) videos on YouTube the week of June 6 to June 12. RIM, a white supremacist monarchist group, was designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists by the U.S. State Department on April 6, 2020. Following the designation, YouTube removed at least one RIM affiliated account. An additional account with RIM videos located in April 2020 was not removed by YouTube.

The two videos located in June were shot in the same style, and with the same background and flag as previous RIM videos. One video was uploaded on June 10, and had 70 views approximately 24 hours later, the other video was uploaded on June 9, and had 106 views when it was located two days later. In June 2020, the German news magazine Focus reported that RIM had trained German neo-Nazis in the use of weapons and explosives in Russia.

U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorists Denis Valliullovich Gariev and Stanislav Anatolyevich Vorobyev in YouTube video, June 11, 2020.

Leader Of White Supremacist Gang Endorses Vigilantism In YouTube Message

On June 7, Robert Rundo, the cofounder of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), posted a video on YouTube where he condemned anti-fascist activism and advocated that whites form vigilante groups. Using examples from recent protests, Rundo stated that law enforcement in the U.S. does not protect white people and that whites as a group are under attack. Rundo advocated that white Americans learn how to defend themselves. In March 2020, Rundo posted a YouTube video from Serbia where he claimed that RAM was not a terrorist organization.

RAM is a white supremacist street fighting crew from southern California whose members were involved in physical assaults at protests in California and Charlottesville, Virginia. In July 2019, three RAM members were given prison sentences of 27, 33, and 37 months respectively, after pleading guilty to charges related to attacking counter-protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. Rundo himself was charged with crimes related to perpetrating violence at demonstrations, but had his charges dismissed by a judge. The Department of Justice has stated that RAM members have previously “documented and promoted their white supremacy ideology through postings on various internet platforms.” RAM members have traveled to Europe to participate in far-right gatherings.