By: M. Khayat*
Jihadis are enjoying, it appears, the services of a technical “help desk” on the secure messaging app Telegram and on Twitter. The help desk is part of a larger network that caters to jihadis’ technical needs, and includes channels and accounts on those platforms and on a forum dedicated to technical matters as well.
In the last year jihadis have intensified their effort to provide their counterparts with technical know-how on a variety of topics such as mobile phone security, and cyber security-related information in general. The information has generally focused on raising jihadis’ cyber security knowledge and awareness with regard to their operations online. Most recently, these efforts have culminated in the establishment of the Electronic Horizon Foundation (EHF), a joint effort of several entities like Tiqani Al-Dawla Al-Islamiyya (the “Islamic State Technician”) and the Information Security channel, a top disseminator of cyber security information, and a technical channel on Telegram, respectively. One of the EHF’s top goals is to hamper electronic surveillance of the mujahideen by Western intelligence services.
Instagram, the online mobile photo- and video-sharing app, is a popular platform for jihadis fighting in Syria, as well as for their sympathizers, for propagating the message of the Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, and other jihadi groups. It is one of the host of social media platforms that jihadis are adept at using, and by means of which they leave their indelible mark online. Instagram appears to be used by jihadis mainly to chronicle life on the battlefield, or for public, and private one-on-one communications. Fighters appear to use it for small talk or as an initial point of contact before moving on to other, encrypted platforms such as Surespot or Telegram.
On February 7, 2016, the information office for the Islamic State (ISIS) in Tripoli province, Libya published a 13-minute video titled “Your [Nonviolent Protest] – Whose Religion Does It Belong To?!”
Top Islamic State (ISIS) propagandist “Turjiman Al-Asawirti” has launched a channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram. The account, opened in February 10, already has over 1,100 members.
On February 9, 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) in Raqqa Province published a series of photos from an event held by its preaching bureau for the city’s remaining Christians, in which they were called to convert to Islam. The photos were titled “The Preaching Bureau – Inviting the People of Dhimma to Islam”; the date of the event was not given. It should be mentioned that shortly after it took over the city of Raqqa, ISIS signed a dhimma pact with the city’s Christians, forcing them to pay a poll tax.
On February 8, 2016, The Islamic State (ISIS) distributed a new nashid (song) in French which glorifies martyrdom for the sake of Allah. The song, produced by ISIS’s Al-Hayat Media Center, was distributed through Twitter and Telegram and hosted mainly on Archive.org. The following are its lyrics and some details about it.
Titled “Out of Love,” the song is styled as the final statement of a fighter who is about to die out of love for Allah and attain the rewards of the martyr in Paradise.
On February 10, 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) in Al-Raqqa province released an 8-minute video titled “They Are The Enemy So Beware Of Them – 4” (a reference to Koran 63:4). This is the fourth video in a series depicting the confessions and executions of spy cells by ISIS.
The current video documents the execution of three men accused of spying on and targeting ISIS members in Al-Raqqa.
On February 7, 2016, Al-Hayat, the media company of the Islamic State (ISIS), released the eighth issue of the organization’s French-language magazine Dar Al-Islam, which is concerned mostly with the November 13 attacks in Paris. The issue, 114 pages long, was distributed via jihadi forums (e.g., Shumoukh Sl-Islam) as well as Twitter and Telegram accounts, and hosted mainly on Archive.org. The following is a brief overview of it; more comprehensive reports are pending.
On February 8, 2016, Al-Malahem, the media arm of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), published an audio statement in which Ibrahim Al-Qusi, a Sudanese national and former Guantanamo Bay detainee who joined the group last year, praised the 43 prisoners recently executed in Saudi Arabia, and extolled them for taking part in the fight against the U.S. presence in the Arabian Peninsula. In the statement, which was posted on leading Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadi forum Al-Fida’, Al-Qusi stressed the importance of Saudi Arabia to Al-Qaeda, condemned the ruling family’s alliance with the U.S., and called on Muslims living there to rebel against them and join and support the mujahideen.
On February 11, 2016, Yemeni activists and newspapers reported that two factions of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have clashed over the group’s leadership of Abyan province, following the February 4, 2016 death of senior commander Jalal Bal’idi, aka Hamza Al-Zinjbari, in an airstrike.
On February 10, 2016, Abu-Israa’ a member of the jihadi forum Al-Fida’ posted the saga of the journey made by Malek and his companions, a group of Uyghurs who left Turkestan for Syria to join the fighting there apparently in the ranks of a TIP (Turkestan Islamic Party) offshoot in Syria fighting alongside Jabhat Al-Nusra.
Following are excerpts from a report profiling nine Indian nationals who established a branch of the Islamic State (ISIS) in India by journalist Rahul Tripathi of The Economic Times daily:
In 2014, 26 Indian youths posed for a group photograph in ISIS t-shirts in Tamil Nadu state
- Nafees Khan, 21
“He is described as the ‘head of finance’ at Islamic State-inspired Janood-ul-Khalifa-al-Hind. Nafees… was working as a salesman at a tile shop in [the southern Indian city of] Hyderabad on a monthly salary of Rs. 11,000. He hails from Mumbai’s Nalasopara [area] and came to Hyderabad in 2012 in search of a job. His primary education was at a Telugu [language-learning] camp and later did Islamic studies at a madrassa for four years.”
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