The propaganda machine of the ISIS is very efficient, everytime that intelligence and activism, try to block it, it rapidly changes become even more effective. After the Paris attacks, we discussed the possible use of a Play Station 4 as a communication channel, a circumstance that demonstrate that ISIS members are exploring new technologies to avoid detection.
The day after the Paris attacks, the security researcher Scot Terban discovered in the Tor Network a new propaganda hub used by the member of the ISIS.
The new website includes a collection of propaganda video and images produced by Al-Hayat Media Center, the media division of Daesh. It is known to the intelligence because it is used to spread content glorifying the jihad against the infidel West, including poems for mujahids and songs (Nasheeds).
The new Daesh hub also recommends ISIS sympathizer the use of Telegram, a secret encrypted messaging platform that is largely adopted by terrorists. Telegram is “A Secret Chat is a one-on-one chat wherein all messages are encrypted with a key held only by the chat’s participants.” It is an essential tool for all the individuals that need to protect their communication from prying eyes.
Telegram’s Channels used by the terrorists allow them to reach tens of thousand followers instantly.
The ISIS is doing much more, its members are running a service to assist jihadists to use encrypted communications. The news has been reported by the NBC News reports that defined the service a 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk.
“NBC News has learned that ISIS is using a web-savvy new tactic to expand its global operational footprint — a 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk to help its foot soldiers spread its message worldwide, recruit followers and launch more attacks on foreign soil.” reported the NBC.
US Army Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) analyst Aaron F. Brantly explains the help desk is a recent development in the media strategy of the group that aims to involve as many members as possible online evading detection by law enforcement and intelligence authorities.
“They’ve developed a series of different platforms in which they can train one another on digital security to avoid intelligence and law enforcement agencies for the explicit purpose of recruitment, propaganda and operational planning,” Brantly told NBC. “They answer questions from the technically mundane to the technically savvy.”
The intelligence has located some 300 pages on instances of the ISIS help desk around the world providing operational support to the ISIS members.
The ISIS Help Desk analyzes any security software and encryption available on the market, then it prepares and spread training materials.
“The CTC has obtained more than 300 pages of documents showing the help desk is training everyone from novice militants to the most experienced jihadists in digital operational security. ISIS also distributes the tutorials through Twitter and other social media, taking pains to link to versions of it that can be downloaded even after their social media sites are shut down.” states the NBC News.
The ISIS Help Desk has a layered structure composed of other associates, living all around the world, who provide a H24 service. The analysts at the CTC has spent a year monitoring the help desk, its associates and the senior operatives.
“You can kind of get a sense of where they are by when they say they are signing off to participate in the [Muslim] call to prayer,” which traditionally occurs at five specific times a day, Brantly said. “They are very decentralized. They are operating in virtually every region of the world.”
The ISIS help desk assumes a crucial role in the recruiting activities of the radical group. The ISIS help desk acts as a filter, it first trains the would-be jihadist in the use of technology to protect communication and avoid detection, then it connects them to more senior ISIS operatives to engage them in more formal training.
When the ISIS help desk operatives develop personal connections with sympathizers the organization contacts them to engage them in recruiting, fundraising and attacks.
“They will engage in encrypted person-to-person communications, and these are extremely hard to break into from a cryptographic perspective,” Brantly said.
“They also post YouTube Videos, going step by step over how to use these technologies,” Brantly said. “Imagine you have a problem and need to solve it and go to YouTube; they have essentially established the same mechanism [for terrorism].”
Brantly described the Jihadi Help Desk as “a fairly large, robust community” that is composed of at least five or six core members who have a significant technical expertise with at least collegiate or masters level training in information technology.
The ISIS Help desk admins are also warning of the hacking campaign #OpParis launched by Anonymous, which promises to identify jihadists online and disclose their details.
The ISIS is warning its members, on a separate Telegram Channel, Khilafah News, the ISIS spread a message to its followers that instructs them on how to prevent getting hacked by Anonymous.
The existence of the Jihadi Help Desk has raised alarm bells in the global counterterrorism community because it demonstrates the ISIS is focused in the use of new technologies and the Web to spread propaganda, recruit new members and hit the West.
“A senior European counterterrorism official said that concerns about the recent development are especially serious in Europe, where ISIS operatives are believed to be plotting major attacks, some of them with direct assistance from ISIS headquarters in Syria.” report the NBC news.
(Security Affairs – Terrorism, ISIS HelpDesk, Paris Attacks)