Major Jihadi Forum Posts Skygrabber Program, Urges Hacking of Drones

December 20, 2009

A member of the Al-Falluja jihadist forum who uses the handle "Abu Yusuf Al-Bashir" posted a download link for the Skygrabber program, software that allows the user to pick up satellite data. The program has been much-discussed following a Wall Street Journal report that Shi'ite militias had used it to hack into feeds from U.S. drone spy planes.[i] In fact, from his post it appears that Al-Bashir heard about the Shi'ite militias' use of the program from the media, and he asks other forum members with expertise in the matter to post an explanation of how to use the software to hack drones.

Al-Falluja is one of the two most prominent salafi-jihadi web forums, and its members support the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the successor organization to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They are also ardently anti-Shi'ite. In other words, the post is not an indication that Sunni jihad groups in Iraq are also using Skygrabber to hack drones, or that they received know-how from the Iran-backed militias; it is rather simply a sign that Sunni jihadists are now showing interest in doing so.

Al-Bashir did post a number of screenshots of the Skygrabber software with some Arabic explanation, basically just translations of the menu options.

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