For immediate release | Monday, September 10, 2018

Extremist Groups Leverage Lesser-Known Social Media Websites

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White Supremacy Groups & ISIS Proliferate Propaganda Online, as Real-Life Consequences Ensue 

New research published last week showed that the use of hate speech and extremism online has “surged on shadowy social media platforms” with “white-supremacist themes” targeting Jews and African Americans. Much of it came from two lesser-known websites: 4chan, an online messaging board that allows anonymity and Gab.ai, a site modeled on Twitter but with less stringent speech rules. Although smaller, these two “exerted an outsize influence on overall conversation online by transmitting hateful content to such mainstream sites as Reddit and Twitter.” Researchers also noted that, before the Internet, it would be more unlikely for one white supremacist to find one another without the ease of finding them online. This ability suggests a “worrying trend of real-world action mirroring online rhetoric” and “a possible feedback loop of online and offline hate.”

Social media alone is not to blame and web host providers such as San Francisco-based Cloudflare allow extremist groups to create their own platforms in order to leverage their messaging and propaganda. Siege Culture (siegeculture.biz), a neo-Nazi propaganda website, uses the company as its nameserver. This website has been loosely tied to the American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose members have killed five people since May 2017. Last month, a new group called “Sonnenkrieg Division” appeared online. Members of this group seem to be located in Europe and lists siegeculture.biz as their website, also using Cloudflare. With Gab, they have released image-based propaganda that has included praising the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, threatening Prince Harry and anti-Albanian sentiment.  

ISIS has also been adept at using online platforms. Early last week, two “Isil supporters” were accused in court of jointly plotting a terror attack by attempting to manufacture an explosive device involving a driverless car. Last year, one of the men shared an eight-minute long propaganda video “designed to inspire supporters of IS but also designed to frighten those who do not support IS” that showed beheadings and executions. Video such these are widely available on websites such as Telegram, Google Photos, Google Drive and Dailymotion. The Counter Extremism Project identified two other such videos, one in which ISIS claimed credit for two bombings in Kabul, and a video that focuses on ISIS’s religious and social aspects and shows fighters celebrating Eid, singing, dancing and sharing food.

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Cloudflare Used By Neo-Nazi Propaganda Site That Promotes Violence / European Connection

Siege Culture (siegeculture.biz), a neo-Nazi propaganda website uses the San Francisco-based company Cloudflare as its nameserver. Siege Culture promotes the writing of American neo-Nazi James Mason, author of the newsletter and book Siege, which advocates for a violent leaderless neo-Nazi guerilla movement to bring down the government. Siege Culture is loosely affiliated with the American neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose members have killed five people since May 2017.

In mid-August, a new group emerged online, calling themselves Sonnenkrieg Division. Based on information on their Gab account, Sonnenkrieg Division members appear to be located in Europe and the group lists siegeculture.biz as their website. Sonnenkrieg Division has released image-based propaganda on their Gab account in Russian, English, and elementary Norwegian. Sonnenkrieg Division uses the same artist as the Atomwaffen Division, an individual who goes by the handle “Dark Foreigner.” Examples of Sonnenkrieg Division propaganda include: praising the Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, threatening Prince Harry and anti-Albanian sentiment.

Whois Information For Siegeculture.Biz That Shows Cloudflare As The Name Server, September 6, 2018

Sonnenkrieg Division Propaganda On Gab, Located On September 6, 2018

 ISIS Claims Kabul Bombings

ISIS claimed two bombings in Kabul on Wednesday via the group’s Telegram channels. At least 20 people were killed and over 70 were injured when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside of a wrestling training center in a Shiite neighborhood. A second explosion, targeting journalists and emergency personnel, detonated on the scene one hour after the first bombing.  In their communique, ISIS identified the bomber as Sabir Al-Khurasani. The group claimed that 150 people were killed or injured.

ISIS's Claim Of Responsibility Via Telegram, Located On September 5, 2018

New ISIS Video Released On Several Websites

On Monday September 3, ISIS’s self-proclaimed Bayda province in Yemen released a video titled “Days of Remembrance and Thanks.” The video focuses on ISIS’s religious and social aspects, and shows fighters celebrating Eid, singing, dancing and sharing food. The video does not show any combat. Food is an important factor in the video, as Yemen is currently in a famine, with an estimated 8.4 million people “on the brink of starvation.” The video was originally released on 19 websites in addition to Telegram, including Facebook, Google Photos, Google Drive, Sendvid, Ustream, Top4top.net, the Internet Archive, mail.ru, Dailymotion, files.fm, Gulfupload.com, nofile.io, ok.ru, pc.cd, tune.pk, upmlf.com, Vimeo, Dropbox and yadi.sk. Three days later, the video was still active on seven websites: upmlf.com, ok.ru, nofile.io, gulfupload.com, files.fm, the Internet Archive and Top4top.net.

“Days Of Remembrance And Thanks” On The Internet Archive, September 6, 2018

BACKGROUND

New Research Uncovers Alarming Rise In Racist And Anti-Semitic Online Content. “Racist and anti-Semitic content has surged on shadowy social media platforms – spiking around President Trump’s Inauguration Day and the ‘Unite the Right Rally’ in Charlottesville – spreading hate speech and extremist views to mainstream audiences, according to an analysis published this week. The findings, from a newly formed group of scientists named the Network Contagion Research Institute who studied hundreds of millions of social media messages, bolster a growing body of evidence about how extremist speech online can be fueled by real-world events. The researchers found the use of the word ‘Jew’ and a derogatory term for Jewish people nearly doubled on the ‘Politically Incorrect’ discussion group on 4chan, an anonymous online messaging board, between July 2016 and January 2018. The use of a racial slur referring to African Americans grew by more than 30 percent in the same period. Gab.ai, a social media site modeled on Twitter but with fewer restrictions on speech, saw even more dramatic increases since the site began operating in August 2016. (Craig Timberg & Drew Harwell, “Racism And Anti-Semitism Surged In Corners Of The Web After Trump’s Election, Analysis Shows,” The Washington Post, 9/6/18)

ISIS Supporters Plot A Terror Attack, Create Weapons And Share ISIS Propaganda Videos. “Two men accused of jointly plotting a terror attack were attempting to manufacture an explosive device involving a driverless car to spare their own lives, a court has heard. Andy Star, 32, who lived and worked at the Mermaid Fish Bar on Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah were working together in a bid to make the weapon, Sheffield Crown Court was told. On Tuesday, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told the court how the pair were supporters of terrorist organization Islamic State, and how Salah had arrived in the UK in 2014, but had not had his asylum claim determined prior to his arrest. She said: ‘The prosecution allege that Farhad Salah and Andy Star had decided that improvised explosive devices could be made and used in a way here in the UK that spared their own lives preferably but harmed others they considered to be infidels.’ During her opening speech, Ms Whyte read a message, sent by 23-year-old Salah in December 2017, in which he told a contact: ‘My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver, everything is perfect only the programme is left.'  Describing how this was evidence Salah was ‘attack planning’, Ms Whyte added: ‘But he was not planning alone. ‘Andy Star had access to the materials necessary to conduct small test runs with explosives and Star was making those devices in his flat.’” (“'Isil-Supporters’ Accused Of Plotting Terror Attack Using Driverless Car Bomb To Spare Their Own Lives,” The Telegraph, 9/4/18)