Our fight against the Islamic State starts online
(New York, NY) – Ambassador Mark Wallace, writing in the Washington Post December 16, addressed the challenges of combatting ISIS, an “enemy that is complex, resourceful and has mastered the digital tools necessary to market a medieval ideology around the world.”
“Whatever consensus the administration and Congress reach in terms of prosecuting the fight against the Islamic State on the ground, our battle online — disabling the group’s ability to freely propagandize, recruit and plan attacks and disrupting the group’s online terror propaganda and the technology it uses to communicate — may be the most decisive.”
Wallace described CEP’s frustrations inherent in trying to convince Twitter to permanently remove ISIS operatives who violate Twitter’s terms of service, only to see them return.
“CEP has reported hundreds of instances of direct threats and incitement to violence, and although Twitter has modified its terms of service, it still does not proactively take down violent pro-Islamic State messages. Even when Twitter removes misused accounts, CEP and others report, they can return in minutes.”
Now, by also turning to encrypted applications and devices, ISIS and other groups are posing an ever more challenging threat to the ability of law enforcement to prevent attacks.
“To underscore the importance of encryption and the significant national security issues the technology poses, consider this: The Islamic State has built a whole division of commanders who issue tutorials to sympathizers about the most secure and least expensive ways of communicating. They even rank applications based on their level of security.”
It is time, Wallace wrote, to face the challenges posed by terrorists' misuse of the tremendous tools that have transformed the way we communicate.
“As, Americans, we have never shied away from robust discussions about balancing the rights of free speech, privacy and safety. It is one we must have about encryption, if we are to have a chance of preventing the next slaughter of innocent people.”
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Domestic Extremism Update
Pennsylvania Man Charged with Providing Material Support to ISIS: A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania man, Jalil Ibn Ameer Aziz, 19, was charged on December 17 with attempting to provide material support to ISIS by disseminating the group’s hateful rhetoric on social media and by assisting others wanting to travel to ISIS controlled territory. Aziz allegedly used at least 57 different Twitter accounts to encourage violence against the United States and to espouse pro-ISIS views. Aziz is alleged to have posted a hyperlink containing the names, addresses and other identifying information of 100 reported members of the U.S. military and calls for violence against them. CEP has long advocated for the “material support” standard to include acts carried out using online platforms.
New York Pizza Parlor Owner Admits to Recruiting for ISIS: Mufid Elfgeeh, the owner of a Rochester, New York, pizza parlor, pleaded guilty on December 17 to trying to recruit people to join ISIS. To spread his message, Elfgeeh allegedly used a combination of three Twitter accounts, 23 Facebook accounts, and one WhatsApp account, which he used to seek out funding and support radical fighters, according to his plea agreement.
Enrique Marquez, friend of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, charged in connection to massacre: Enrique Marquez, the friend of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook, was charged December 17 with buying the rifles used in the December 2 attack which killed 14 people, plotting other terrorist attacks with Farook in 2011 and 2012, and negotiating a sham marriage to a distant relative of Farook's. Investigators said Marquez, 24, illegally purchased the two assault rifles that were used in the killings carried out by Farook, 28, and his 29-year-old wife Tashfeen Malik.