Who Is Posting Islamic State (ISIS) Materials On The San Francisco-Based Internet Archive (Archive.org) – And What Can Be Done About It?

May 31, 2015

The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.

By: M. Khayat*


In the past year, the Islamic State (ISIS) has put out an astonishing number of daily releases, ranging from written statements to very professionally produced videos, inter alia to promote itself and to advance its agenda, among other things. In order for many of these ISIS releases, primarily the video and audio productions, to be distributed, they must first be uploaded to certain websites; the links to them on these websites can then be shared on top-tier jihadi forums such as Shumoukh Al-Islam, and also on social media such as Twitter.   

In recent months, ISIS has shown a clear preference for using the San Francisco-based Internet Archive (archive.org) to host its materials. Among the ISIS content posted there are video and audio productions, online magazines, and radio broadcasts by ISIS's Al-Bayan radio. In order to manage its numerous daily releases, ISIS has created a number of accounts on Archive.org.

Some of ISIS's accounts on the Archive

The Internet Archive is free, easy to use, and versatile, and it is no surprise that ISIS has chosen to use it so extensively. It is also used frequently by other jihad groups, including Al-Qaeda.[1] Its appeal to ISIS, however, can be partly attributed to the fact that the website offers visitors no way to instantly flag undesirable content on it – meaning that ISIS content can remain active on it for months. ISIS's extensive use of Archive.org can also be seen against the backdrop of the flagging and reporting of ISIS content on other video-sharing websites such as YouTube, which has in the past year significantly increased its removal of ISIS videos. YouTube removes these videos with considerable input from YouTube users who flag and report them. While the strategy of online reporting of jihadi content to effect its removal will not in and of itself lead to the elimination of such content online, it makes it more difficult for jihadi supporters to disseminate their material, as they must constantly monitor content they have posted and find new platforms when this content is removed. The problem of Archive.org's lack of any flagging mechanism is exacerbated by the lengthy and counterintuitive reporting mechanism that must be followed whenever a user wishes to report an item. Additionally, Archive.org's own Terms of Use does not prohibit content frequently featured in ISIS releases, including graphic violence and hate speech.  

ISIS Posts Links To Archive.org

ISIS disseminates its content via two main channels: the Shumoukh Al-Islam jihadi forum, where it posts daily in a subsection dedicated to it, and Twitter. Sometimes releases are posted first on Shumoukh Al-Islam and only afterwards on Twitter, and sometimes vice versa.  

On Shumoukh Al-Islam, ISIS posts direct links to Archive.org so that its readers can watch, download, and "favorite" them.


Link (circled in red) to ISIS radio broadcast Al-Bayan on the Archive, posted on Shumoukh Al-Islam 

Creating An Archive.org Account

A valid email address is all that is necessary to create an account and use Archive.org.[2] Users must also agree to the Archive's Terms of Use.

ISIS Accounts On Archive.org

ISIS operates numerous accounts on Archive.org; each account specializes in a particular category of content – for example from a particular geographical area, such as a specific ISIS "province," or from a particular ISIS media wing. These accounts are generally innocuously named; for example, an ISIS video from Kirkuk, Iraq, released by "vaedovou @moakt.com," includes extremely graphic scenes of killed and beheaded Iraqi soldiers:


ISIS Kirkuk video on the Archive. Source: Archive.org/details/waktolohom, posted May 27, 2015.

Beheaded Iraqi soldier from the Kirkuk video. Archive.org URL is circled in red.

Below is a partial list of ISIS accounts on Archive.org;[3] they include the member's name, homepage URL on Archive.org, the email address used to upload the content (obtained from the metadata found in the XML file provided on the Archive.org under "Download Options"), and the domain of the uploaded content.

Member's name (circled in red) on the member's homepage

  XML file (red arrow) that contains the metadata

The email (circled in red) that was used to upload the specific ISIS content, with the Archive URL (red arrow) visible in address bar

ISIS accounts on Archive.org:



Member's Homepage URL





[email protected]




[email protected]

Dijla Province (Iraq)



[email protected]





Barqa Province (Libya)



[email protected]




[email protected]

Ninawa Province (Iraq)



[email protected]

Algeria Province

Jnoub News


[email protected]

Baghdad Province



[email protected]

Al-Jazeera Province (Iraq)



[email protected]

Sinai Province



[email protected]

Tunisia Province



[email protected]




[email protected]

Al-Anbar Province (Iraq)

abo hasaan


[email protected]

Salah Al-Din Province (Iraq)



[email protected]




[email protected]

Yemen - Sana'a

uhnnl ohb o


[email protected]




[email protected]

Al-Janoub Province (Iraq)



[email protected]

Sinai Province



[email protected]

Al-Raqqa Province (Syria)



[email protected]

Al-Hayat Media



[email protected]


[email protected]


[email protected]

Kirkuk Province (Iraq)



[email protected]

Aleppo Province (Syria)




[email protected]

Al-Khayr (Deir Al-Zur) Province (Syria)

Flagging And Reporting Content On Archive.org

Clicking Archive.org links on Shumoukh Al-Islam usually opens up the main video page (see example below) where the video can be viewed, downloaded in multiple formats, and "favorited" by the user; the user can also write and post a review of the video.

Typical page that opens up when clicking an ISIS link[7] to Archive from Shumoukh Al-Islam

As noted, Archive.org does not offer an option for a user to flag a video for any reason. In order to report an item on Archive.org, the item must violate the website's Terms of Use (see below). The user reporting an item must send an email with the URL of the offending item to info @archive.org;[8] if reporting "spam items or site abuse," the user must add a description of the problem.  

Archive.org notes that it "follows the Oakland Archive Policy[9] for Managing Removal Requests And Preserving Archival Integrity."[10] The Oakland Archive Policy provides for seven types of content removal requests, along with the recommended response to each one of them.[11] Only one category, described as "Third party removal requests based on objection to controversial content (e.g. political, religious, and other beliefs)," can possibly be applied to ISIS content on Archive.org. In its recommended response for reported items in that category, the Oakland Archive Policy states that under the Library Bill of Rights, "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval." It concludes: "Therefore, archivists should not generally act on these requests."

Archive.org's Terms of Use[12] do not include any prohibitions on hatred, threats, graphic violence, or harmful or dangerous content – all of which are regularly featured in ISIS releases. Below are excerpts from the Archive's Terms of Use:

"...In using the Archive's site, Collections, and/or services, you further agree (a) not to violate anyone's rights of privacy, (b) not to act in any way that might give rise to civil or criminal liability, (c) not to use or attempt to use another person's password, (d) not to collect or store personal data about anyone, (e) not to infringe any copyright, trademark, patent, or other proprietary rights of any person, (f) not to transmit or facilitate the transmission of unsolicited email ("spam"), (g) not to harass, threaten, or otherwise annoy anyone, and (h) not to act in any way that might be harmful to minors, including, without limitation, transmitting or facilitating the transmission of child pornography, which is prohibited by federal law and may be reported to the authorities should it be discovered by the Archive...

"Because the content of the Collections comes from around the world and from many different sectors, the Collections may contain information that might be deemed offensive, disturbing, pornographic, racist, sexist, bizarre, misleading, fraudulent, or otherwise objectionable. The Archive does not endorse or sponsor any content in the Collections, nor does it guarantee or warrant that the content available in the Collections is accurate, complete, noninfringing, or legally accessible in your jurisdiction, and you agree that you are solely responsible for abiding by all laws and regulations that may be applicable to the viewing of the content..."

Is ISIS Content On Archive.org Under The Radar Of Law Enforcement Agencies?

Information about ISIS's accounts on Archive.org can be helpful to the U.S. law enforcement agencies and other agencies as well. However, based on the Archive's 2014 transparency reports,[13] which list the number of law enforcement requests submitted to it, only eight requests were submitted by U.S. law enforcement agencies, and all those were subsequently complied with. There were no "National Security" requests and no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests.

Conclusion And Recommendations

The Internet Archive digital library project plays a significant role in providing education and learning opportunities to people and researchers around the world. However, its intended purpose of "offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format"[14] should not be tainted by ISIS's abuse of its services.

A number of measures can be taken to counter ISIS's clear preference for using Archive.org as a platform for its video and audio releases, to force it to look for alternative file-hosting websites, and to facilitate the removal of ISIS content already hosted on it. The introduction of a flagging function and streamlining of its reporting mechanism would be a first step in this process. Additionally, requiring more than an email address – for example, a valid phone number as well – for the creation of an Archive.org account would make using the platform less appealing to ISIS and jihadis in general.  


*M. Khayat is a Research Fellow at MEMRI



[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series No. 724, Al-Qaeda, Jihadis Infest the San Francisco, California-Based 'Internet Archive' Library, August 17, 2011.

[2] Archive.org/account/login.createaccount.php.

[3] This partial list of accounts was compiled during May 2015, based on ISIS's official releases on the Shumoukh Al-Islam forum. 

[4] Ajnad is an ISIS media company that generally releases Koran recitations and nasheeds.

[5] Al-Bayan is ISIS's radio station.

[6] Al-Furqan is ISIS's flagship media company.

[7] Archive.org/details/alkhir1231c, accessed May 28, 2015.

[8] Archive.org/about/faqs.php#Report_Item, accessed May 28, 2015.

[9] Www2.sims.berkeley.edu/research/conferences/aps/removal-policy.html, accessed May 29, 2015.

[10] Archive.org/about/faqs.php#Report_Item.

[11] Www2.sims.berkeley.edu/research/conferences/aps/removal-policy.html.

[12] Archive.org/about/terms.php.

[13] Archive.org/about/faqs.php#1007.

[14] Archive.org/about/.


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