(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, CEP researchers identified multiple pro-ISIS Instagram accounts using the platform’s “stories” feature to promote a Telegram channel used to disseminate phone numbers to create new accounts. The channel operators also require everyone who receives a number to pledge allegiance to ISIS first.
Christopher Polhaus, leader of the neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe, released a series of guidelines for group membership, including a leadership structure modeled on motorcycle gangs, dues, DNA tests, uniforms, and fines for infractions. Elsewhere, a dark web imageboard glorified a man on trial for killing four Muslim family members in Ontario in 2021. Finally, CEP researchers identified eleven more Twitter/X accounts, including several praising violent white supremacists, such as the 2015 Charleston church shooter, and encouraging attacks on “high profile” individuals. These accounts, reaching an average of more than 400 people, additionally posted propaganda videos and photos affiliated with extremist groups.
Pro-ISIS Instagram Accounts Advertise Telegram Channel That Shares Telephone Numbers
From September 26 to 28, pro-ISIS Instagram accounts, using the stories feature, advertised a Telegram channel created to share phone numbers to register Telegram accounts. Phone numbers are needed for several social media websites and apps, including Telegram, and a nonpermanent number can be used to open an account. ISIS supporters have repeatedly provided advice regarding temporary phone numbers, including suggesting using free sites, pay sites that accept cryptocurrency, and offering numbers on Telegram itself.
The same Instagram accounts also shared a recently made Instagram profile, which contained no posts or ISIS imagery, belonging to the same individuals behind the Telegram channel. The Telegram channel was created in September 2022 but has had several previous versions. The channel has stated that it will send phone numbers only if the potential user also sends a pledge of allegiance to ISIS.
Several Instagram profiles that shared the message advertising the Telegram phone number accounts also posted pro-ISIS propaganda, including clips from propaganda videos, audio, and images. One account used a photo of ISIS leader Turki al-Binali as a profile photo. Most Instagram accounts that shared the message advertising the Telegram channel did not post explicit pro-ISIS propaganda.
The Telegram channel previously had an Instagram account deleted by that platform on September 13, according to a channel administrator.
CEP reported the new Instagram account to the platform on September 28. It was still online on October 2.
Different Instagram accounts sharing the message advertising the pro-ISIS phone number Telegram account using the Instagram stories feature. Screenshots taken on September 27 and September 28.
Neo-Nazi Group Announces Rules, Including Leadership Structure, Dues, and Fines
In a video and audio message released on September 21, Christopher Pohlhaus, the leader of the neo-Nazi group Blood Tribe announced a series of organizational rules, which was spread on Telegram. Stating that white people were ruled over by “racial aliens” and would eventually become extinct, Pohlhaus claimed that creating a hierarchical white leadership structure was necessary to ensure eventual victory.
Pohlhaus announced a system of local, regional, and overall chapters consisting of Blood Tribe groups in the U.S. and Canada, with a leadership structure inspired by motorcycle gangs. Regarding joining the group, Pohlhaus announced rules for probationary and supporter status, membership, and a mandatory DNA test, which must show an individual to have a minimum of 93 percent European ancestry. A system of membership dues and fines for infractions, also inspired by motorcycle gangs, was announced, as well as rules about uniforms, leadership succession, the taxing of merchandise and businesses operated by Blood Tribe members, annual charity events, and a schedule of national and regional neo-Nazi rallies.
While Pohlhaus claimed that all Blood Tribe activities must be legal, he also stated that group leadership could never “write a bylaw or issue an order to protect any hostile (non-white, Jewish, or LGBTQ) entity or individual,” which leaves open the question whether group leadership could prevent a member from committing an act of harm or violence.
Dark Web White Supremacist Imageboard Praises Accused London, Ontario Killer
Users of a white supremacist imageboard on the dark web glorified the man currently on trial for murdering four members of an Ontario Muslim family in June 2021. The imageboard endorses acts of terrorism and routinely shares memes and other content glorifying white supremacist murderers.
Extreme Right and White Supremacist Content Located on Twitter/X
In a sample of Twitter/X content located on September 28, CEP researchers found 11 accounts that posted antisemitic, racist, or anti-LGBTQ content, glorified mass shooters, or shared propaganda from white supremacist groups. Content included images and videos praising the 2015 Charleston Church shooter, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks, and the extreme-right individual who killed German politician Walter Lübcke, noting the importance of killing “high profile enemies.” Other accounts encouraged acts of violence against transgender people, posted videos of violence committed against people of color, and posted neo-Nazi and Order of Nine Angles propaganda.
Four accounts posted content, including propaganda videos and photos from Patriot Front, the Nationalist Social Club, the Goyim Defense League, and a regional Active Club chapter. The Active Club account was created in September 2023 after Twitter deleted its previous chapter account. Nine of the 13 Active Club accounts mentioned in a September 12 CEP blog were still on Twitter on September 28.
Regarding the accounts located on September 28, eight accounts were created in 2023, two in 2022, and one in 2020. The Twitter profiles had an average of 435 followers, ranging between 18 for an account created in September 2023 and 3,045, which belonged to an account created in November 2022 and posted a variety of white supremacist and antisemitic content.
CEP reported the eleven accounts to Twitter/X on September 28. Three accounts were removed by the social media website by October 2, including two accounts that posted Patriot Front propaganda and one account that posted various neo-Nazi and antisemitic content.
NSC propaganda video on Twitter, with allegedly over 35,000 views. Screenshot taken on September 28. The account that posted this video was removed after CEP reported it.
White supremacist video on Twitter. Note the white supremacist Celtic Cross used as a profile image. Screenshot taken on September 28.