Russia-Developed Texas-Based Encrypted Communication App Zello: Growing In Popularity Among Jihadis - And Growing In Usage In Terror Attacks; Zello CEO Declines MEMRI Advice, Leaves Jihadi Content On Platform

March 8, 2018

Islamic State (ISIS) supporters and other jihadis from around the world are using the Austin, Texas-based communication application Zello for planning and executing terrorist attacks in the U.S., the U.K., European countries, Turkey, and elsewhere around the world. On January 30, 2018, it was reported that the perpetrator of the April 2017 Stockholm truck attack had used Zello to communicate with other jihadis immediately after he drove the vehicle into crowds on a main street, killing five people and injuring 14. In March 2017, a Texas-based ISIS recruiter who moderated a Zello channel, instructed followers to kill infidels, and personally approved terror attacks was indicted by a federal grand jury.

The Zello push-to-talk app can be used on smartphones, tablets, and PCs, and is available for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Windows PC operating systems, and for two-way radios. Users can create private or public channels that allow them to easily chat with others and listen to conversations. The main Zello app is free; the Zello@Work app is fee-based.

The Zello website states that the app's "advanced encryption ensures all communications are secure." It adds: "Services may disclose personally identifiable information when it's required to comply with law enforcement requests or subpoenas when you violate the Terms of Service." On September 11, 2017, it announced that all private voice messages on Zello on the version released after June 6, 2017 are end-to-end encrypted. The company states that its app has been downloaded 65 million times.

This is an excerpt from a MEMRI Daily Brief. To view the full report, click here.

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