ISIS’ Tactics Shift On The Battlefield & Over The Internet

Terror Group’s Use Of Cloud Storage Supplements Acts Of Violence & Brutality

On and off the battlefield, ISIS has proven itself to be especially resilient and adaptable.  With the terror group having lost large swathes of its territory, especially in Mosul and Raqqa, they have shifted to tactics both old and new.  They have resorted to terrorizing communities with “swift hit-and-runs to kidnap people” for the purpose of exchanging them for captured terrorists.  ISIS also specifically targets minorities, such as Assyrian Christians, those that follow the Druze faith and Iraq’s Yazidis, in order “to create anarchy, unrest, and ultimately take control over the chaos.”

Further, as the commercial and private use of cloud storage grows, extremists are expanding past traditional social media channels and utilizing sites like Dropbox, UStream, Amazon Cloud Services, Microsoft One Drive and OwnCloud to share and stream content.  These sites are not searchable and content can only be accessed with the proper URL ensuring fewer random interactions with content by non-extremists, resulting in fewer content reports and takedowns.  Cloud storage also provides the advantage of storing potentially illegal or incriminating information online and not on a local hard drive.  It’s questionable how well these sites are policed and how often illegal content, especially that of terrorists encouraging and inciting violence, are removed.

In one instance, on August 7, the pro-ISIS online news group “CaliphateNews24” launched a video appeal for translators.  The news group currently has five different divisions: Arabic, English, Spanish, German and Italian.  However, the video states that “We welcome any brother who is willing and able to contribute in bringing the voice of the Khilafah to the World, in whichever language he is most comfortable with.”  CaliphateNews24 operates several different Telegram channels that translate Amaq and Nashir news channels.  In addition to Telegram, the video was released on Google Drive.

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Growing Use Of Cloud Storage Sites To Spread Extremist Material

As the commercial and private use of cloud storage grows, extremists are using sites like Dropbox, UStream, Amazon Cloud Services, Microsoft One Drive and OwnCloud to share and stream content.  These sites are not searchable and content can only be accessed with the proper URL ensuring fewer random interactions with content by non-extremists, resulting in fewer content reports and takedowns.  Cloud storage also provides the advantage of storing potentially illegal or incriminating information online and not on a local hard drive.  It’s questionable how well these sites are policed and how often illegal content, especially that of terrorists encouraging and inciting violence, are removed (and what type of content is removed).

Dropbox has been used by ISIS online supporters since at least November 2016 (probably earlier), Amazon Cloud Service has been in use since at least September 2017 (probably earlier), the Microsoft One Drive has been in use since at least September 2016 (probably earlier), whereas Ustream was first used in July 2018, and intermittent use of OwnCloud began in June 2018.

ISIS Video “The Highest Ranks Of Sacrifice” On OwnCloud, Located On August 9, 2018.

ISIS News Group Launches Appeal For “Foreign Brothers”

On August 7, the pro-ISIS online news group “CaliphateNews24” launched a video appeal for translators.  The news group currently has five different divisions: Arabic, English, Spanish, German and Italian.  However, the video states that “We welcome any brother who is willing and able to contribute in bringing the voice of the Khilafah to the World, in whichever language he is most comfortable with.”  CaliphateNews24 operates several different Telegram channels that translate Amaq and Nashir news channels.

In addition to Telegram, the video was released on YouTube and Google Drive.  Two days after it was uploaded, the video was still available on YouTube and it had 52 views as of 4 PM EST on August 9.  The video, at only 57 seconds, managed to elude YouTube’s artificial intelligence, suggesting that the site is ill-equipped for handling propaganda that lacks some of the visual hallmarks (such as violence or combat) of other ISIS videos.  The video also notably does not include any images of people.

ISIS News Group CaliphateNews24 On YouTube

ISIS Call To Violence

Time on Facebook: One week

Views: 232, 16 likes/reacts and 27 shares

URL: Link

A clip calling for violence from the video “And Allah and His Apostle Told Us What Was True,” originally released on April 21, 2017.  In the clip, a man calls for violence against the unbelievers fighting ISIS.

ISIS Video “And Allah And His Apostle Told Us What Was True” On Facebook

Execution Video On Facebook For Three Years With Over 1,600 Views

Time on Facebook: Approximately three years

Views: 1,600-plus, 24 likes/reacts and two shares

URL: Link

An execution video titled “They are the Enemy Beware 3” was originally released on January 3, 2016 from ISIS’s self-proclaimed province in Raqqah, Syria.  The video is directed to former Prime Minister David Cameron by an English-speaking executioner who proclaims that one day ISIS will invade the UK.  The video concludes with the execution of five accused spies by handguns.

ISIS Video “They Are The Enemy Beware 3” On Facebook.

BACKGROUND

ISIS Has Resorted To Kidnapping And Executing Minorities In Order To Ransom Back Their Fighters. “The Islamic State jihadist group is looking to recapture lost power by reverting to the grisly tactics that first propelled it to global notoriety, analysts say, including executions and kidnapping minorities.  IS last week beheaded a 19-year-old student, one of more than 30 Druze Syrians it kidnapped in late July during a spate of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings in Syria’s southern Sweida province … ‘On one hand they are publicly killing people, but then behind the scenes they can take hostages and swap,’ says Hassan Hassan, senior fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.  ‘That’s key – the whole thing is part of an attempt to revive its cells, bring back some of its resources, and replenish some leadership and ranks with people who have been kidnapped or held in prisons,’ says Hassan.” (Maya Gebeily, “On The Backfoot, Islamic State Turns To Old Tactics To Gain New Strength,” Agence France-Presse, 8/7/18)

The Terror Group Has Terrorized Syria’s Druze And Iraq’s Yazidi Populations, In Addition To Assyrian Christians. “IS has used similar tactics in Iraq and in Syria’s northeast, where in 2015 it abducted 220 Assyrian Christians that it ultimately traded for a large ransom.  Negotiations for the remaining Druze hostages – 14 women and 15 of their children – are taking place through Russian coordination with Syria’s government, according to a top Druze religious leader … Perhaps IS’s most infamous attack against a minority community was its raids against Iraq’s Yazidis in 2014, when it forced tens of thousands from the tiny religious group to flee and captured girls and women as spoils of war … The Druze, who made up three percent of Syria’s pre-war population, follow a secretive faith seen as an offshoot of Islam but cast by IS as heretical.  Their leaders have sought to maintain a precarious arrangement with the regime: In exchange for maintaining their loyalty, Druze men would not be conscripted and sent to fight far from home.” (Maya Gebeily, “On The Backfoot, Islamic State Turns To Old Tactics To Gain New Strength,” Agence France-Presse, 8/7/18)

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On December 6, 2018, a suicide car bomb exploded near a police post in the Iranian port city of Chabahar, killing four officers and wounding 48 other people. Ansar al-Furqan, an al-Qaeda-linked Baloch insurgent group, claimed responsibility.

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