Terror Group’s “Remarkable Resistance” Against Law Enforcement Credited To Unorthodox Use Of Internet Websites
On August 22, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a new audio message titled “Give Glad Tidings To The Patient” – a reference to Quran 2:155 referring to the testing of the faithful. The recording was released via ISIS’s most authoritative media arm, Al-Furqan Foundation. In his speech, Baghdadi states that ISIS, unlike other Sunni groups in Syria, never surrenders and urges members of the opposition to join them. He also called for the overthrow of the Saudi government and specifically called for attacks in the west, especially with vehicular attacks on crowds. Video versions of the speech were uploaded to at least 21 websites with the most prominent in addition to Telegram being: Facebook, Google Drive, Google Photos, Mediafire, Ustream, the Internet Archive, Dailymotion and Microsoft One Drive.
For ISIS, the use of non-traditional social media websites represents an evolution stemming from crackdowns by law-enforcement officials. Described by The Washington Post as digital version of “trench warfare,” agencies such as Europol have achieved mixed success in stopping extremist content from proliferating online. In spite of their efforts, from seizing computers and servers to blocking Internet portals, the Virtual Caliphate “has shown remarkable resilience, producing, with few interruptions, a steady barrage of propaganda videos and communiques, despite cyberattacks, territorial losses and the deaths of dozens of top officials and technicians in its media division.”
The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has previously written about ISIS’ growing adoption of cloud storage platforms as an alternative means of relaying propaganda. And now, it appears that they are trying their hand in cryptocurrency. On August 22 and 23, ISIS supporters on Telegram shared a message urging the mining of Bitcoin to help pay for websites in order to share videos, photos and other files, without fear of deletion. The mining mechanism appears to be a Telegram based bot that uses cloud technology. The ISIS supporters most likely have the ability to withdraw Bitcoins generated by users of the bot. The effectiveness of the bot itself is unknown. More than1,100 accounts saw the message and it is unknown how many chose to participate in mining.
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ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Releases New Audio Message
On August 22, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a new audio message titled “Give Glad Tidings To The Patient” – a reference to Quran 2:155, referring to the testing of the faithful. The recording was released via ISIS’s most authoritative media arm, Al-Furqan Foundation. In his recording, Baghdadi states that ISIS, unlike other Sunni groups in Syria, never surrenders and urges members of the opposition to join them. He additionally called for the overthrow of the Saudi government and specifically called for attacks in the west, especially with vehicular attacks on crowds. Video versions of the speech were uploaded to at least 21 websites in addition to Telegram: Facebook, pc.cd, Google Drive, Google Photos, Mediafire, Ustream, the Internet Archive, Dailymotion, Yadi.sk, the Microsoft One Drive, Top4top.net, mail.ru, file.fm, mega.nz, nofile.io, ok.ru, tune.pk, Vimeo, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, and Vidio. Approximately 24 hours later, the video was still available on 10 sites: Google Drive Google Photos, Mediafire, the Internet Archive, Top4top.net, file.fm, nofile.io, tune.pk, Amazon Cloud Drive and Vidio.
Audio (mp3) versions of the speech were also uploaded to at least 16 websites in addition to Telegram: pc.cd, Microsoft One Drive, Top4top.net, the Internet Archive, mail.ru, Google Drive, files.fm, gulfupload, mega.nz, nofileio, ok.ru, Soundcloud, upmlf.com, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, and yadi.sk. Approximately 24 hours later, the audio file was still available on five websites: Top4top.net, files.fm, gulfupload, nofile.io and upmlf.com.
Baghdadi’s “Give Glad Tidings To The Patient” On The Internet Archive, August 23, 2018
Baghdadi Speech Broadcast Via Facebook Live
Shortly after it was released, Baghdadi’s speech “Give glad tidings to the patient” was broadcast on Facebook live. CEP analysts reported the video to Facebook, and it was removed, but not before at least 41 individuals saw it and the video accumulated over 225 comments. Additional information is located below in Facebook content.
Screenshot From Facebook After CEP Reported The Video
Pro-ISIS Telegram Channels Urge Followers To Mine Bitcoin To Pay For Websites
On August 22 and 23, ISIS supporters on Telegram shared a message urging the mining of Bitcoin to help pay for websites in order to share videos, photos and other files, without fear of deletion. The mining mechanism appears to be a Telegram based bot that uses cloud technology. The ISIS supporters most likely have the ability to withdraw Bitcoins generated by users of the bot. The effectiveness of the bot itself is unknown. More than 1,100 accounts saw the message and it is unknown how many chose to participate in mining.
The use of Bitcoin is especially unusual because cryptocurrency mining requires advanced graphics cards and large amounts of processing power, and many ISIS online supporters access Telegram through their smartphones or presumably lack the required expensive technology. Despite these complications, the relative anonymity of Bitcoin, its use online and the ability to generate it through computing power makes it attractive for online supporters of groups like ISIS.
Cryptocurrency aside, the message indicates that ISIS’s online supporters are interested in finding new ways to host content that allows them to stop relying exclusively on potentially hostile content hosting companies. Bitcoin has previously been mentioned in pro-ISIS Telegram channels in February and June, but this most recent event has been the most concerted mining effort.
ISIS Supporter On Telegram Advising Users To Use The Telegram Bot To Mine Bitcoin, August 23, 2018
Google Translate: “My brothers, we are working on a project to upload files, versions of pictures, etc ... without any deletion. And the site needs $ $ by this bot. We will get it free for 400 new members via this invitation link # Method Just click the link and then click Forever.”
ISIS Claims Chechnya Attacks
On Monday, August 20, four police officers in Chechnya were wounded in three different attacks targeting law enforcement. In the town of Shali, two police officers were wounded by two assailants with knives in front of a police station, a man-detonated explosives near police and survived in the town of Mesker-Yurt near Grozny and an attacker was killed after running over two police officers in Grozny with a car. The BBC reported that the attackers were between the ages of 11 and 17.
Later in the day on August 20, ISIS released a statement via the Amaq News Agency, claiming that “fighters from the Islamic State attacked officers and elements of the Chechen police in Grozny and Shali and Mesker Yurt.” Additionally, a pre-attack video of the attackers pledging their allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was released via Amaq on Tuesday, August 21. The video was uploaded to at least 12 websites in addition to Telegram: Google Drive, Google Photos, pc.cd, file.fm, Streamable, Sendvid, Tune.pk, nofile.io, Dropbox, Ustream, mail.ru, and the Internet Archive. Approximately two days later, the video was still active on four sites: Google Drive, Tune.pk, nofile.io and Dropbox.
ISIS Amaq Claim Regarding Chechnya Attacks On Telegram On August 20, 2018
ISIS Amaq News Video Of The Chechnya Attackers Pledging Their Allegiance To ISIS Before Their Attack. Located On Google Drive On August 23, 2018. Please Note That All Pictured Individuals Are Minors And Their Faces Have Been Obscured.
ISIS Claims Responsibility For Paris Stabbing: Authorities Skeptical
On August 23, a man in the Paris suburb of Trappes stabbed his mother and sister to death before he was killed by police. Later the same day, ISIS claimed responsibility, stating on Telegram via the Amaq News Agency that “Islamic state fighters carried out the attack in response to appeals targeting nationals of coalition countries.” The French interior minister, Gerard Collomb, said that the attacker, Kamel Salhi, “[s]uffered from serious mental health issues although he had also been flagged for glorifying terrorism.” Despite French authorities previously taking note of Salhi, Minister Collomb doubted that he was “someone who could respond … to orders and instructions from a terrorist organization, in particular from Daesh.”
The case has some immediate similarities to the Danforth shooting in Toronto in July. Specifically, both Salhi and Faisal Hussain were known to suffer from mental illness and both men were killed (or committed suicide) during their attacks. In both cases, ISIS’s claim of responsibility was vague and did not provide corroborating information, such as a bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) video. ISIS notably claimed that the Las Vegas mass shooter, Stephen Paddock, was also “a soldier of the Islamic State;” however, ten months later there has been no evidence to confirm that assertion.
ISIS Amaq Claim Regarding Paris Stabbing On Telegram On August 23, 2018
Manual For Making C4/RDX On Google Drive Still Up
A pdf in Arabic that includes instructions for making plastic explosives located last week on Google Drive is still online, despite being reported several times. The link was still active as of August 23. Text based manuals and “how to” guides, especially those related to bomb making, present a unique challenge for file storage and cloud-based sharing services that may be specifically looking to remove video and photo content for violations.
Explosives Manual On Google Drive, August 23, 2018
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi This Week Urged ISIS Followers To Attack The West. “The Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi resurfaced on Tuesday to deliver a message marking the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday in which he urged his followers to keep up the fight and to wage lone-wolf attacks in the West. References in the audiotaped speech to recent developments in the Syrian war and to the spat between Turkey and the United States over a detained American pastor suggest that he was alive at least until very recently, despite a new spate of rumors earlier this month that he had died of injuries suffered in airstrikes. There was no immediate confirmation that the voice delivering the 54-minute address was Baghdadi’s, but the holiday speech is in keeping with the periodic outreaches by the self-proclaimed ‘caliph’ of the vast territories once controlled by the Islamic State.” (Liz Sly, “Islamic State Leader Baghdadi Resurfaces, Urges Supporters To Keep Up The Fight,” The Washington Post, 8/22/18)
ISIS Has Expanded To Non-Traditional Internet Websites To Maintain And Its Expand Its Online Presence. “The campaign started with the cyber equivalent of a massive airstrike: law-enforcement agencies from eight countries, moving in unison to smash two of the main propaganda organs of the Islamic State. In the two-day operation in April, police seized computers and network servers across Europe and North America and blocked Internet portals used by the terrorist group’s radio broadcaster, al-Bayan, and its official news agency, Amaq. Yet, less than a week later, Amaq suddenly reappeared at a different Web address, forcing the governments to pounce again. Then it surfaced a third time. And a fourth. Today, more than four months after the European police agency Europol began the initiative, the struggle to silence the Islamic State’s communications flagships has shifted from shock-and-awe to something resembling trench warfare. The extremist group finds new ways to put its messages and videos on the Internet, and counterterrorism teams try again to knock them down, occasionally winning battles but never, it seems, the war.” (Joby Warrick, “In Fight Against ISIS’s Propaganda Machine, Raids And Online Trench Warfare,” The Washington Post, 8/19/18)