memri
December 23, 2016 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1291

Germany-Based Encrypted Messaging App Telegram Emerges As Jihadis' Preferred Communications Platform – Part V Of MEMRI Series: Encryption Technology Embraced By ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Other Jihadis – September 2015-September 2016: Section 2 – MEMRI Research Documents Jihadi Use Of Telegram

December 23, 2016 | By Steven Stalinsky, R. Sosnow, M. Khayat, Mansour Al-Hadj, R. Green, A. Agron, S. Benjamin, and M. Shemesh
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1291

In the past year, the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) and MEMRI Cyber Jihad Lab (CJL) have published over 100 reports on the use of Telegram by jihadi organizations, individual members of these organizations, individual supporters, and private channels, in addition to these organizations' media organizations and other news aggregators. As noted, they have used Telegram for recruitment, outreach, posting announcements, distributing content, including guides and advice for lone-wolf attacks, disseminating the findings of hacking attacks including "kill lists," planning attacks and identifying possible targets, issuing threats, claiming responsibility for attacks, posting pledges of allegiance to ISIS, fundraising, and more. The following section focuses on official announcements and releases by various jihadi groups and their media wings, as well as official and unofficial content circulated by these groups and their supporters.

Jihadis Shift To Using Telegram's Private Channels

In the MEMRI JTTM report Jihadis Shift To Using Secure Communication App Telegram's Channels Service, published October 29, 2015, MEMRI Research Fellow M. Khayat noted that since Telegram's announcement of the launch of its channels service, on September 22, 2015, to replace its Broadcast function, numerous jihadis and jihadi organizations had opened their own channels on Telegram. The channels, he wrote, allow individual message content to be transmitted to an unlimited number of subscribed users. At the time of writing, ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) had each created several channels. The new service offered by Telegram constitutes a step up from the standard one-on-one messaging function, and there appears to be no way in to monitor it. Mr. Khayat also noted: "Based on the rate at which new jihadi channels are emerging, and on the large number of members they are attracting, these channels can be expected to become a fertile and secure arena for jihad-related activities." This has indeed come to pass.

As the report noted, "content shared on Telegram channels goes beyond the mere reposting of jihadi groups' propaganda, and includes tutorials on manufacturing weapons and launching cyberattacks, calls for targeted killing and lone-wolf attacks, and more. Some channels, such as those belonging to ISIS, show various levels of coordination among them, even using bots to aid their efforts."

The report stated: "Telegram accounts are tied to the telephone number of the user. A user must be in possession of the telephone with that number that is verified with a code sent to it by SMS or phone call. Telegram also offers a web service, telegram.me, which allows users to open a chat directly with another user by following a URL such as telegram.me/username. Telegram channels use similar URLs, which, in the case of jihadis, are frequently shared and promoted on Twitter and elsewhere. The channels also offer their subscribers a notification function for whenever new content is posted on the page. Since it is a cloud-based app, content is synchronized across a user's devices.  

"Telegram channels have some features and functions that are advantageous to the typical jihadi user. First, they provide relative anonymity. A channel displays only the total number of its subscribers to other users without disclosing their names. However, a channel administrator can see the names of members. The relative anonymity makes it harder to identity and track followers of a certain channel for a number of reasons: First, on a social network such as Twitter, following and follower lists are public, and therefore pro-ISIS accounts can be cross-referenced by checking the accounts that they follow and those that follow them. Second, Telegram users can forward content they find on the channel to other Telegram users, thus heightening the sharing and dissemination of jihadi content. Third, messages on the channels are transmitted in a single direction, and no reverse interaction from channel subscribers to the broadcaster is possible. This eliminates the possibility of counter-messaging and the disruption of a content's feed, both of which are used on Twitter as a strategy to counter extremist propaganda. Finally, Telegram provides client-server/server-client encryption as a default option, which, in theory, adds security to the entire interaction." He also notes that Telegram offers a more secure chat option called Secret Chat, which uses end-to-end encryption, and includes features like message self-destruct (see below).

Explaining that Telegram has an application program interface (API) for bots, which are special accounts designed to automatically handle messages, he writes that Telegram bots do not require an additional phone number to set up, and that bot usernames always end in "bot." The Islamic State has a handful of Telegram bots (see "ISIS Bots" below) which aid it in its propaganda efforts. The following are jihadi channels on Telegram included in the report.   

ISIS-Related Channels

Nasher Channels 

Nasher is currently the flagship of ISIS-related news on Telegram. Nasher was already associated with ISIS when it operated as a webpage (Nasher.me) and as an app as well.[1]   


Nasher logo 

Nasher operates a number of channels on Telegram that provide ISIS-related news in a number of languages. The main hub of those different channels appears to be the Arabic-language Nasher channel, whereas the remaining channels offer various translations and content summaries. Also, content posted on the Nasher channels mirrors ISIS releases that appear on Twitter and on the Shumoukh Al-Islam forum.  


Nasher English channel on Telegram  

Nasher channels are offered in the following languages: Arabic (over 10,000 members); English (998 members); French (348 members); Indonesian (1,076 members); German (340 members); Bosnian (201 members); Turkish (181 members), and Bengali (159 members).


Instructions from one of the Nasher channels on how to forward content to other users

a3maqagency

The ISIS-affiliated A'maq news agency channel provides around the clock updates on the Islamic State, focusing primarily on ISIS's military operations. A'maq previously operated on Facebook, but its pages there were constantly being shut down by administrators.[2] A'maq's channel was created on October 1, 2015, and a month later it had over 9,000 members.  

 

ISIS News 

A generic channel that publishes ISIS-related news, mostly reposting of various official ISIS releases. At the time of the report's publication in October 2015, the channel had 300 members.

 

Russian ISIS News

Launched on October 8, 2015, this channel delivers ISIS-related news in Russian. As of October 31, 2015, it had 1,919 members.

 

KhilafahNews

This ISIS news channel in English had, as of the report's publication in October 2015,1,711 members.


Promotion of the KhilafaNews channel on pro-ISIS Twitter account (Source: @mhistory087, October 12, 2015) 


News3Libya

News for Libya is an unofficial channel reporting about ISIS operations in Libya. The channel had over 500 members in late October 2015.

 

"Libya and The Honor of the Caliphate"

Also an unofficial channel, reporting on ISIS activities in Libya. The channel publishes various religious content as well. At the time of the report's publication, it had 1,437 members.


Sinai Province

An unofficial channel publishing ISIS news from Sinai. The channel is named after Abu Suhaib Al-Ansari, a slain commander of ISIS in Sinai. The channel had 437 members as of the report's publication, in October 2015.

 

Fursan Al-Rafi' ("Knights of Upload")

With over 3,000 members, the Fursan Al-Rafi' channel is dedicated to uploading ISIS releases on various hosting websites, including YouTube, the Internet Archive (Archive.org), Sendvid, Google Drive, and others.


Al-Battar Media

This channel belongs to the leading pro-ISIS media foundation Al-Battar. At the time of the report's publication, it had over 4,400 members.

 

Publication Knights Workshop 

A channel that focuses on generating pro-ISIS Tweets, which members can readily copy and paste to their Twitter accounts. The channel is affiliated with Al-Battar Media Foundation, and at the time of writing, in October 2015, had 1,205 members.

 

ISIS Bot

Telegram has several ISIS channels that are run by bots. These channels, which all have a "bot" suffix, provide various functions. It is worth noting that bot channels do not show the number of channel members. 

 

Videodila Bot

This bot will post ISIS releases from its official and affiliated media companies into a user's thread.


"What can this bot do?" Response in Arabic: "Publish releases from [Islamic State] media companies, and media [companies] of [its] provinces, and [releases] from pro[-ISIS media] companies." (Source: Videodila Bot, October 21, 2015)

Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Channels

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP TV)

The channel, which at the time the report was published had over 2,700 members, circulates releases and statements from Al-Qaeda's branch in Yemen.

 

Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF)

Created on October 2, 2015, the channel publishes content from the Al-Qaeda affiliated Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). It had 1,055 members at the time of reporting.


GIMF channel promoting the second issue of the Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN) English-language magazine Al-Risalah

Military Preparation And Incitement

"Be a [Lone] Wolf"

A channel dedicated to sharing military training and weapons manufacturing for the purpose of carrying out attacks. The channel focuses on Saudi Arabia and issues repeated calls to carry out lone wolf attacks there. The channel's motto is "Expel the polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula."

The channel was created on October 18, 2015, and at that time had 51 members. Its channel description reads: "Posting messages and military-related information directed at lone wolves, especially those in the place of [Islam's] revelation [i.e. Saudi Arabia]."


The channel's profile pic with the caption: "Lone Wolves: Soon [Will Be] My Turn"

 

Jihadi Designs

The channel publishes jihadi posters and privately created various graphic design. The channel is always on the lookout for new "talent," and also holds contests. It has over 1,100 members. Poster topics vary but include incitement to violence.


Poster showing various methods of killing people. Top caption in red reads: "It is my turn." Center image is of a wolf, a reference to lone wolf attacks (Source: Jihadi Designs, October 26, 2015)
 

Jihadis Use Private Groups On Telegram

In the January 8, 2016 MEMRI report 'Supporters Of The Islamic State' – Anatomy Of A Private Jihadi Group On Telegram, Offering Secret Chats And Private Encryption Keys, MEMRI Executive Director Steven Stalinsky noted that Telegram offers a number of different options for regular, secret, and encrypted communications, including groups, "supergroups," and channels. Telegram explains these options in its FAQ on its website (telegram.org/faq) as follows: "Telegram groups are ideal for sharing stuff with friends and family or collaboration in small teams, they can have up to 200 members and by default everyone can add new people and edit the name and group photo. If your group grows to a very large community, you can upgrade it into a more centralized supergroup. Supergroups can have up to 1,000 members and have a unified history, deleted messages will disappear for everyone. Channels are a tool for broadcasting public messages to large audiences. In fact, a channel can have an unlimited amount of members. When you post in a channel, the message is signed with the channel's name and photo and not your own."

 
Telegram message to users about groups 

"Supporters Of The Islamic State" Group On Telegram

The private ISIS-affiliated group "Supporters of the Islamic State" uses the options available to members: invitations to join the group, private and secret chats, encrypted conversations complete with encryption key, and profile pages of members of the group.

The group, which disseminates ISIS propaganda, was created December 17, 2015 and within two days had nearly 500 members. As part of this group, these members can conduct private conversations with each other or with a small group of other members, and can remain completely invisible to anyone who is not part of the group.  

The page for the Supporters of the Islamic State group shows information on its nearly 500 members. The avatars of many of the members include the black ISIS flag and other ISIS symbols (see "Supporters of the Islamic State Group – Member Profiles" section below). 


Left: Group page for Supporters of the Islamic State. Right: Invitation to join chat/group

Dialogue box that appears when user clicks on invitation to join chat/group 
 

Secret Chat Feature

Members can invite other members, whether individuals or groups, to participate in a temporary secret chat; these temporary chats are frequently short-lived. Any member of the group can initiate a secret chat with any other member or members by clicking on "Start Secret Chat."


Encrypted profile page features "Start Secret Chat" button

Stand-By Screen For A Secret Chat Window  

The dialogue box that appears when a group member invites another to a secret chat explains: "You have invited [other member] to join a secret chat.

"Secret chats:

  • "Use end-to-end encryption
  • "Leave no trace on our servers
  • "Have a self-destruct timer
  • "Do not allow forwarding."
 
Left: Stand-by screen for a secret chat window. Right: Open secret chat window with blank dialogue box – user can either type or speak.

Open secret chat window with message typed into dialogue box; user then hits "send"
 

Encryption Key For Secret Chats – "200% Secure"

The windows below show a secret chat underway with an "encryption key" (marked in red) that is shared by the chat's participants. The encryption key window states: "This image is a visualization of the encryption key for this secret chat with [interlocutor]. If this image looks the same on [interlocutor's] phone, your chat is 200% secure."

 

Supporters Of The Islamic State Group – Member Profiles

Following are the profile pages of some of the Telegram users who are members of the Supporters of the Islamic State group:

 

Top French ISIS Recruiter And Executioner Rachid Kassim On Telegram: Promoting, Coordinating, And Encouraging Attacks Via Text, Images, Audio, Video


Rachid Kassim, ISIS fighter, recruiter, media operative, and executioner

In September 2016, it was reported, following the arrest of three teens and a group of young women suspected of plotting jihadist attacks, that French ISIS recruiter and executioner Rachid Kassim, who is currently in Iraq, was believed to be at the center of the plots, coordinating them and recruiting activists primarily over Telegram.[3] 

Kassim's online activity has had a direct role in inciting ISIS supporters to carry out attacks in France, such as in the cases of one of the two killers of the French priest in July 2016, Adel Kermiche[4] and killer of a policeman and his partner near Paris in June 2016, Larossi Aballa.[5] A joint investigation by MEMRI French and the MEMRI JTTM was the first to identify Kassim's activity on Telegram. One of Kassim's channels is "Sabre de Lumière" (Saber of Light), and he also operates another, called "Truth and Proof," which was previously run by Adel Kermiche.[6] After Kermiche's death following the July 26 attack, the channel was inactive for some two weeks. On August 9, it resumed activity with a flurry of messages; by August 18, there were 25 new posts, including text, images, and audio. In one of the posts Kassim wrote: "Thousands of people have access to this list. Continue to disseminate, Inshallah!" During the same period Kassim also posted some 150 new items on his Sabre of Light channel, including 58 audio messages and 48 images. This channel currently has 258 members.

According to police, Abballa was "part of (Kassim's) Telegram group, and Kassim had a real influence in this case," and both French killers, Abdel Malik Petitjean and Adel Kermiche, were influenced and instructed by him, and kept in touch with him via Telegram.[7]

Rachid Kassim's name became known following his appearance in an ISIS video in which he celebrated the July 14, 2016 Nice attack, threatened further attacks in France, and beheaded a prisoner.[8]  He has posted several videos in which he called for attacks in France, including a video published prior to the Nice attack in which he suggested using a truck as an operational method (WARNING – EXTREMELY GRAPHIC IMAGE).[9]

Kassim's posts are mostly religious and doctrinal in character, preaching and promoting the ISIS message and policies, and inciting acts of terror. Evidence shows that he is in contact through Telegram with other ISIS operatives, as well as with ISIS supporters and potential recruits. These communications may indicate involvement in handling ISIS assets in the West, and knowledge of ongoing terror plots.

His main message is a call for "lone wolf" attacks in France and in the West, and he has distributed numerous videos, audio recordings and texts in this vein, including a list of people and places to target.[10] He may or may not be directly involved in the creation of these materials.

Kassim's online activity has increased significantly in the last few months, and he has posted a wide variety of materials including poems by an ISIS member, Q&A with ISIS followers, and reports about martyrdom operations in Iraq and Syria. The theme of sacrifice for the cause is central to his posts, as well as the message that the best option is to be martyred during an attack in the West.

 On August 16 he wrote on Truth and Proof: "Give priority to massive attacks... Seven brothers who cannot be detected [by the police] are working on this, so it's only a matter of time". On August 18 he posted on Sabre of Light: "Attack this country of Charlie [reference to Charlie Hebdo]. Attack them, do not wait any longer, oh my brothers, in the name of Allah."

 In an audio message he posted August 16 on Truth and Proof, he said: "Message to the people of Babylon, the people of Charlie [Hebdo], message to the unjust and criminal people. Soon you will have no more time to go on the Internet, I tell you now. Considering what is going to happen soon, it's really a waste of time to browse Telegram today to see who did what, etc. I advise you to watch your backs because you have been located for some time, but things have been in motion for eight days now, so we wait..." On August 9, on Truth and Proof, he gave a list of potential targets: "A swimming pool, night club, cinema, festivals, theaters... So give priority to massive attacks or targeted attacks on known figures, like journalists or actors... The real heroes of Islam are those who attack in the land of disbelief." The following are examples of Kassim's activity on Telegram, beginning in June 2016:

On June 29, Before Attack In Nice, Kassim Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks In France: "Go Get A Truck"

In a video released on Telegram, Kassim called for lone-wolf attacks in France, and urged potential attackers to "go get a truck."

He said in a video titled "A Message to France and to My Brothers": "Now, my brother, let us be honest with one another... There aren't many of us here, but there are enough of us for the infidels. Allah be praised, we are facing the beast. We are breaking its teeth, and we hope to chop off its head. But you are in the belly of the beast, my brother. So if you want Islam to be victorious, why would you want to come out of the beast and face its fangs, when you could tear out its heart and its liver? That is what I am asking you. Sheikh Adnani gave you a very clear [message]. He said 'If they close the door on your hijra, open the doors of jihad on them, and make them regret it.' Brother, tear up your ticket to Turkey. Allah is right in front of you, brother. In the name of Allah, proceed...

[...]

"Go get a truck... After Sheikh Adnani made his speech, knife attacks were carried out in Palestine. Not many people pointed out this [connection]. A woman took a knife to stab an [Israeli] soldier. In France, you have access to gas tanks, to trucks, and to many products that can cause a disaster, Allah be praised... Just kill five infidels, and end up a martyr. That would be preferable than you coming here and committing martyrdom, killing 100 people.

[...]

"Brother, you are inside the heart of the beast. I ask you: Which victory do you seek? Do you want the victory of Islam, or do you want your own victory?... You know what you have to do, my brother. By Allah, rip out the heart of this beast and tear out its liver..."

Kassim On Telegram: "Attack This Country Of Charlie [Hebdo],"August 22, 2016

On August 18 he posted on Sabre of Light: "Attack this country of Charlie [reference to Charlie Hebdo]. Attack them, do not wait any longer, oh my brothers, in the name of Allah." Another post, with photos of the Eiffel Tower and orthodox Jews, stated: "Jihad is not just in Iraq. Jihad is not just in Palestine."[11]

Kassim Calls On Young Algerians To Attack Tourists And Destroy Tourist Attractions, September 22, 2016

On September 21, 2016, Kassim posted a 12-minute audio recording on Telegram in which he called on youths in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and other North African nations to rise up and join the jihad war. He urged young men in these countries to travel to the various battlefronts, such as in Libya, and said that if they cannot do so, then they should wage jihad in their home countries. He began by calling on young Algerians to uproot the idolatry that he said has become common throughout the country, and urged them to destroy statues, icons, and burial sites that attract tourists, and kill those who visit them. He harshly criticized Algerian Muslims who claim to adhere to Islam while living comfortable lives, watching soccer on TV, and stressed that Algeria is Dar Al-Kuffar (an abode of unbelief) and that as a result, a jihad war must be waged there against the regime. He also called on them to start small, for example by destroying archaeological sites and statues and killing "sorcerers" and then to attack members of the administration, police, and military, including generals and politicians. He also urged them to film their attacks, and even produce beheading videos, in order to "bring joy to the entire ummah."[12]

Kassim Posts Photos, Names Of Six Belgians, Calling On Muslims To Kill Them, September 26, 2016

On September 26, 2016, Kassim posted on his Telegram account six photos of Belgian nationals, apparently current or former soldiers, along with their names. The photos were taken from their public Facebook profiles. The attached message calls on "Belgian brothers" to kill these individuals. Kassim frequently calls on Muslims in France and Belgium to carry out targeted assassinations.[13] The following are the photos and names:


Alex Koudis de Mons; "Logan Dony and his beautiful car"

Kassim Distribute Guides On Using Poison, Making Bombs, September 27, 2016

On September 24, 2016, Kassim[14] distributed a 22-page document in French offering basic instructions on constructing explosive devices, including instructions on processing chemicals to produce several different explosive compounds. It includes a recipe for acetone peroxide or TATP, the explosive most used by ISIS operatives, which was used in both the Paris and Brussels attacks. It also explains how to make detonators, grenades, and mines, as well as a chemical weapon based on chlorine and hydrochloric acid. This kind of bomb-making guide in French is rare, and has not been seen before from any open ISIS sources. Used together with other easily accessible open-source material such as instructional YouTube videos, this material could be used to carry out significant attacks.

According to comments on Kassim's Telegram channel, the booklet was put together by an experienced ISIS operative and is based on translations from the books "Anarchy 'N' Explosives" and "The Terrorist Handbook," as well as on his own personal experiments.


"Making explosives" guide distributed by Kassim on Telegram

List of explosives and where to obtain ingredients to make them

Islamic State (ISIS): Official Releases; Sheikhs, Writers And Operatives; ISIS And Pro-ISIS Channels; Encouraging Lone-Wolf Attacks In The West; Technical Tips For Fighters And Sympathizers; Hacking Groups, Including Release Of "Kill Lists"

Official Content Released By ISIS Provinces, Media Wings, Publications, And More

Chinese And Norwegian ISIS Prisoners For Sale In Issue 11 Of ISIS Magazine Dabiq; Available For Purchase Through Telegram, September 10, 2015

Issue 11 of Dabiq, ISIS's English-language magazine released on September 9, 2015, contains two pages advertising two prisoners who are for sale. Interested parties are advised to contact a Telegram number that is provided. The first prisoner is a Norwegian named Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Oftadd and the ad for him reads: "To whom it may concern of the crusaders, pagans, and their allies, as well as what are referred to as human 'rights' organizations: This Norwegian prisoner was abandoned by his government, which did not do its utmost to purchase his freedom. Whoever would like to pay for the ransom for his release and transfer can contact the following Telegram number." The ad mentions at the end that this is a limited-time offer. The second page featured displays a Chinese prisoner named Fan Jinghui from Beijing. The same message and personal details are listed for Jinghui.[15]

ISIS Video Sets Out Structure Of Caliphate State, July 6, 2016

On July 6, 2016, ISIS's Al-Furqan media company released a video setting out the structure of the caliphate state. The slickly produced 15-minute video, which was posted on pro-ISIS channels on Telegram, was released in several languages. It details the Islamic State's departments, offices, and committees, but the only official it names is Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, ISIS's self-appointed caliph. 

The video recounts the establishment of the caliphate state, the appointment of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi as its caliph, and the pledges of allegiance to him that followed; these, it said, came "after years of religious famine and political barrenness." It also says that the caliphate has "outlined the path of salvation and triumph for the Muslim generations." Moving on the to the structure of the caliphate, the video says that it is headed by the caliph, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who is aided by a Shura Council and a Delegated Committee. Al-Baghdadi is tasked, inter alia, with upholding and spreading Islam, preparing the armies, implementing hudud (Koranic punishment), defending the homeland, and fortifying the fronts.[16]

ISIS Announces Death Of Spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani In Syria, Promises Retaliation, August 30, 2016

On August 30, 2016, A'maq reported that ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani had been killed in Syria. The announcement, that was posted on the agency's website and Telegram channel, read:  "Military source to A'maq Agency: Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, spokesman of the Islamic State, was martyred during an inspection [of troops] to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo."[17]  

In ISIS Video, French Children Threaten: "Today In Syria, Tomorrow In Paris," May 17, 2016

On May 14, 2016, ISIS's Aleppo information bureau released a 14-minute video titled "In the Fathers' Footsteps" (In Arabic), or "In the Footsteps of My Father (in French). The video, distributed via the ISIS channels on Telegram and the Shumoukh Al- Islam forum, focuses on two French boys, Abu Mus'ab and Qa'qa, the sons of French ISIS fighter Abu Dujanah Al-Faransi, who remained in Syria after their father died in battle. The video mainly follows the older of the two boys, Abu Mus'ab, who is not yet 12, attending the ISIS school and undergoing military training. Abu Mus'ab is interviewed in the video and talks about the splendid treatment that his family receives from the organization and its fighters. Likewise, throughout the video he threatens vengeance against the West in general and France in particular.


Abu Mus'ab practices his marksmanship by firing at targets of photos of various leaders, including French President Hollande

Abu Mus'ab stands before buildings destroyed by the coalition bombings in the northern Aleppo countryside, and threatens France: "I say to France: Allah willing, we shall kill you, like you killed our Muslim brothers in the land of the Caliphate." In the final part of the video, Abu Mus'ab and his younger brother Qa'qa' execute two condemned men – a Syrian army soldier and a spy. He delivers additional messages to France, noting: "My message to the infidels in general, and to France in particular: You cannot stop us by killing our parents or destroying our homes. On the contrary, this only makes us stronger, and more determined to target you wherever you are. "Following the execution, he says: "Today [we kill] in Syria, and tomorrow [we will kill] in Paris, Allah willing."[18]


Abu Mus'ab in class at the ISIS school; Abu Mus'ab and his brother executing Syrian soldiers

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attack On Train In Germany, July 19, 2016

On July 19, 2016, ISIS's A'maq news agency published, via its official Telegram channel, a claim of responsibility for that day's axe attack on a train in Wurzburg, Germany. The claim stated: "A security source [told] A'maq Agency: The perpetrator of the stabbing attack in Germany was one of the Islamic State's fighters. He carried out the attack heeding the calls to target the member countries in the coalition fighting the Islamic State." More than 20 people were wounded in the attack, which was carried out by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee. It should be mentioned that authorities found a hand-made ISIS flag in the teenager's room.[19] 

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Suicide Attack In Ansbach, Germany, July 25, 2016

On July 25, 2016, A'maq reported via its Telegram channel that the bomber who blew himself up near a music festival in Ansbach, Germany, wounding at least 12, was "a soldier of the Islamic State." According to the report, the bomber "executed the operation in response to calls to target nations in the coalition fighting the Islamic State."[20]

ISIS Releases Video Of Second Normandy Church Attacker, Who Calls On Muslims To Attack France, Coalition Countries, July 28, 2016

On July 28, 2016, A'maq released on its Telegram channel a video message by one of the July 26, 2016 Normandy church attackers, Ibn Omar, whom it identified as Abdel Malik Petitjean. The previous day, the agency had released a video showing the two church attackers, Abu Jaleel Al-Hanafi (Adel Kermiche) and Ibn Omar pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Speaking in French, Petitjean addresses Muslims and urges them to attack France: "Strike this country, strike coalition countries, strike them. We strive to support Islam and not ourselves." Repeating his call for more attacks against France, Petitjean says: "I urge all brothers to attack this country. I tell all brothers: Wake up and bring life back to your hearts. Do not listen to the devil who cast doubts, do not be among those who are hesitant, who speak but do not act. Oh brothers, come out, [for] we have everything that we need and we have no excuse. Come out [to attack] with a knife or anything else, and attack them. Kill them en masse, and do not claim that you are ignorant of the truth." The video was subtitled in Arabic.[21]

ISIS Releases Video Of Normandy Church Attackers Pledging Allegiance To ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi, July 27, 2016

On July 27, 2016, A'maq released on its Telegram channel a one-minute video showing the perpetrators of the previous day's attack on a church in Normandy, France pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, in which an elderly priest was murdered. The two men are seen sitting on the stairs inside a house, with one of them holding a printed ISIS banner with "From France" written on it in Arabic. The main speaker says he is Abu Jaleel Al-Hanafi, who is identified in media reports as Adel Kermiche, 19, and names the other man as Ibn Omar. Al-Hanafi then holds Ibn Omar's hand and recites the pledge of allegiance to Al-Baghdadi in broken Arabic. [22]   

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Copenhagen Attacks, Says Attacker Responded To Group's Call To Target Coalition Countries, September 2, 2016

On September 2, 2016, A'maq claimed responsibility for the shooting attack on two policemen in Copenhagen, Denmark. In a breaking news statement posted on its Telegram channel, A'maq identified the shooter, who was wounded in the attack and subsequently died in hospital, as a "soldier of the Islamic State," stating that he had "carried out the operation in response to the calls to target the coalition countries." Soon after the announcement, ISIS supporters published a photo of the attacker and asked Allah to accept him as a martyr. One post criticized "the crusaders and their agents" for accusing "the soldiers of the caliphate" of being either insane, drug dealers, or mentally ill after each attack saying that they do so in order to save their reputation in their home countries. Promising "the crusaders" more "severe and bitter" attacks in the future, the poste read: "Today is in Copenhagen and we won't tell where it will be tomorrow."[23]

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Attack On Russian Policemen, Releases Video Of Attackers, August 19, 2016

On August 18, 2016, the ISIS news agency A'maq released on its Telegram channel a video of two men claiming that they had carried out the August 17 stabbing attack against two Russian policemen in Balashika, near Moscow, to avenge the Russian bombardments of Muslims in Syria and Iraq. The video identified the two as Uthman Mardalov and Salim Israilov, and described them as "fighters of the Islamic State."[24]

ISIS Appeals For Support In Philippines, Indonesia, And Malaysia, Calls On Its Supporters There To Attack "Unbelievers" And "Apostates," June 22, 2016

ISIS has appealed for support to Muslims in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and nearby countries, urging people there to join its ranks and to launch attacks against local "unbelievers" and "apostates." According to a new video by the group that was released on pro-ISIS Telegram channels, ISIS is showing an increase in support for it from various militant factions, namely those operating in the Philippines. The Philippines, it appears, also plays a central role in ISIS's views. The video, for example, names one Abu 'Abdallah Al-Filipini, who was approved by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi himself, as the leader of ISIS's cadre of fighters in the country. It also urges ISIS supporters from neighboring countries to make hijra to the Philippines to join the group under the leadership of Al-Filipini, if they cannot go to Syria to join it. The 21-minute video features members from various Filipino militant "brigades," some of which belong to the Abu Sayyaf jihad group, swearing fealty to Al-Baghdadi. Among the groups named are the Abu Dujana Brigade, the Abu Khubaib Brigade, the Jundullah Brigade, and the Abu Sadr Brigade. Also in the video, ISIS fighters in Syria from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines direct various messages to the group's supporters in their respective countries.[25]

ISIS Infographic Shows Its Areas Of Operation, Boasting Presence In France, Turkey, Many More Countries, June 29, 2016

On June 29, 2016, ISIS released an infographic marking the second anniversary of the declaration of the "Caliphate." The infographic, produced by the ISIS-affiliated A'maq agency and showing the organization's areas of operation, was distributed on pro-ISIS Telegram channels. Three categories of areas of operation are shown. The core areas of Iraq and Syria are presented as areas of "strong control." A second category includes areas where the organization claims to have "medium control": Libya, Nigeria, Egypt, Yemen, Chechnya, Dagestan, Afghanistan, Niger, the Philippines and Somalia. The third category shows areas where ISIS boasts the presence of "security units" (i.e. a network of covert terrorist cells): Algeria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Tunisia and France.[26]


 

ISIS Video Shows Fighters Deployed In Mosul At Night; Fighter Threatens U.S.: "You Will Be Defeated Again In Iraq And Leave It Humiliated With Your Tail Between Your Legs," October 18, 2016

On October 18, 2016, the official ISIS news agency A'maq published a three-minute video showing ISIS fighters being deployed in Mosul at night. The video, posted on pro-ISIS Telegram channels and elsewhere, was likely released at this time to show that the organization still holds the city despite the campaign to retake it. One of the fighters in the video, who is armed and wears a mask, threatens America and promises that it will once again be defeated and expelled from Iraq humiliated and with its tail between its legs. The video also shows fighters patrolling the streets and securing intersections and streets.

The speaker in the video starts by stating that alongside Allah's promise to grant believers the victory, He also demands that they withstand the test. He threatens America, stating that it will be defeated, as was foreseen by fallen greats such as Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, Abu Hamza Al-Muhajir, Abu Anas Al-Libi, and Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani He adds: "We swear by Allah, swear by Allah, swear by Allah that you, America, will be defeated in Iraq and leave it humiliated with your tail between your legs. Just as our Sheikh Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi vowed and promised when he said you would leave Iraq humiliated."[27]

ISIS And Pro-ISIS Sheikhs, Prominent Writers, Operatives

Top ISIS Propagandist Turjiman Al-Asawirti Launches Telegram Channel, February 10, 2016

On February 10, 2016, top ISIS propagandist "Turjiman Al-Asawirti" launched a channel on Telegram. Al-Asawirti, who operates as his own pro-ISIS "media production company," wrote that his Telegram channel will be used to publish his materials as well as to announce his new accounts on Twitter. Al-Asawirti is among the leading pro-ISIS users on Twitter who have had their accounts repeatedly shut down, yet keep reappearing. Even today, on his Telegram channel, Al-Asawirti announced that he had opened his 419th Twitter account, which was then shut down less than an hour later. He then announced that he had opened his 420th account, which was also shut down shortly thereafter. As of this writing, Al-Asawirti proudly announced his return to Twitter for the 421st time.[28]

Extremist British Preacher Abu Haleema Launches Telegram Channel, Which Is Then Promoted By ISIS Activists, February 29, 2016

On February 28, 2016, the London-based extremist preacher Abu Haleema launched a Telegram channel. Abu Haleema is already very active across various social media platforms, posting excerpts from his videos on Instagram and also sharing, via his official Facebook account, links to his videos on YouTube. Although Abu Haleema himself is not overtly pro-ISIS, his social media followers include ISIS fighters and supporters. He is likely not open about his affiliation due to his May 2015 arrest by Scotland Yard. On his Telegram channel, Abu Haleema stated, "We gonna be exposing these dodgy Taghoot [tyrants] scholars and the kufr [tyrant] and shirk [idolatry] they commit. I will be posting all my vids on here inShaAllah." It should be noted that his Telegram channel has been promoted by other pro-ISIS accounts. At the time of this writing, Haleema's channel had 250 members.[29]


Abu Haleema promoted his Telegram channel on his Facebook account; Caliphate Cyber Army promoted the channel

Top ISIS Writer Asks Twitter, Telegram To Halt Their Suspension Of Jihadi Accounts And Challenges Them, As Well As Anti-ISIS Groups, To Counter-Argue, February 12, 2016

On February 12, 2016, Mu'awiyya Al-Qahtani, aka Ibn Al-Siddiqqah, a prominent writer and ISIS supporter, published an article calling on the founders of Twitter and Telegram to stop suspending pro-ISIS accounts and to instead counter the ISIS message and let people decide for themselves. He invited them to a "challenge and a real confrontation," and called this offer "unbeatable."[30]

Jihadi Writer Warns ISIS Supporters Not To Limit Their Online Activity To Telegram, Urges Them To Use Facebook, Twitter, August 11, 2016

A recent article published by Al-Battar, a media company affiliated with ISIS, warned the group's supporters who are active on social media not to limit their activities to Telegram, and encouraged them to return to Facebook and Twitter. Under the headline "Oh [ISIS] Supporters, Return to the Battlefield," the writer, who identified himself as "Katib," explained that because Telegram does not measure audience impressions, its users cannot gauge how much their messages have spread.[31]

On His Telegram Channel, British ISIS Fighter Appeals For Donations To Keep Fighters Warm In Syria, December 14, 2015

On December 14, 2015, British ISIS fighter Omar Hussain posted a message on his Telegram channel asking for donations to help ISIS militants keep warm in Syria this winter. He wrote: "As we know, winter is soon approaching and the winters here in Sham [Syria] are extremely difficult. We end up having to have 3 blankets wrapped around us at night as some brothers cannot afford heaters. If someone is willing to assist financially in this cause then please message me on my telegram (@Repunzel) and I'll arrange for the money to come inside sham via other secure roots InshaaAllah." This message was viewed by 662 members of Hussain's Telegram channel, which at the time of writing had a total of 704 members. This is not the first time Hussain has appealed for funds online. On September 24, on his Tumblr account, Hussain explained that militants were in need of financial assistance to purchase military gear, and to fund projects such as building drones.[32]

"Islamic State In Libya" Telegram Channel Spreads "Awareness Of The Expansion" Of The Caliphate In Libya, February 19, 2016

On November 6, 2015, the Telegram channel "Islamic State in Libya" was launched. The channel's description reads: "This is to give the awareness of the expansion of the khilafah and more so it in Libya." The channel, which currently has 318 members, disseminates official photos of ISIS productions filmed in Libya in addition to unofficial personal photos which fighters appear to have taken themselves. The channel also shared the stories of two slain fighters, one from Nepal and another from Nigeria, and a Western fighter calling himself Ali Al Foutawi recounted some of his battle experiences. The photos in the Telegram channel come from official ISIS-sanctioned media productions, and some are also personal snapshots taken by fighters. One photo shows an AK-47 alongside some food items. It appears that the meal was in celebration of an Al-Shabaab leader pledging allegiance to ISIS. The sign in the photo reads: "The Islamic State – We congratulate the pledge of allegiance of our brothers in Somalia – your brothers, Tripoli province."[33]


Islamic State In Libya Telegram channel

Pro-ISIS Media Group Releases Video Calling For Attacks In U.S., France, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Russia And Iran, August 17, 2016

On August 17, 2016, the pro-ISIS media group Al-Thabat released a video on its Telegram channel urging Muslims to carry out attacks in the West, specifically in the U.S., France, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and also in Russia and Iran. The video, titled "Come On Rise," begins with a series of slides listing these countries, followed by a narrated message in English, apparently a low-quality translation of a text in Arabic. The message is accompanied by segments from ISIS videos, including many scenes of ISIS beheadings. The video also features excerpts from a recent speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, who is believed to also be the head of the group's external operations, calling for attacks in the West, especially against civilians. The narrator begins by saying that the infidel nations have come together to fight ISIS, and therefore the monotheist Muslims of Europe must rise up and act, for a monotheist on his own is equal to an entire army. He adds: "Raise the banner of jihad in the kuffar's [infidel's] own soil, and fight them the way they fight your brothers. Fight them and make their lives full of terror. Get up and fight them even with a knife... Rise, my unifying [i.e., monotheist] brother, and kill them in markets or in train stations, or in their homes or anywhere... Be on the path of our brother Omar Mateen [perpetrator of the Orlando attack], who shook the throne of the protector of the Cross, America, and also on the path of our brother Larossi Aballa [perpetrator of the attack in Magnanville, France], who arose the sunnah of slaughtering in the middle of France..."[34]

ISIS Activist Promotes His "Online Da'wah Attack Operations" Telegram Channel On Facebook, February 26, 2016

On February 24, 2016, a jihadi Facebook user promoted his new Telegram channel, "Online Da'wah [preaching] Attack Operations," providing a link to it on his Facebook page and explaining its purpose: "Gather amongst us to help in targeting attacks on popular pages/groups with [i.e. by posting on them pro-ISIS comments]." On the channel itself, he posted a link directing readers to a private chat. The Telegram channel states: "Welcome to Online Da'wah Attack Operations Group. We will target groups or pages on social media 2-3 times a week insha'Allah. Please add your brothers and sisters for help in executing these operations with us. Jazakum Allah Khair [may Allah reward you with goodness]."

It also says: "Please Ask Friends to Join Group – Gather amongst us to help in executing coordinated attacks on popular pages of kuffar/ Group is 100% pro-ISIS."[35]

On Telegram, American ISIS Member In Syria Promotes Belgian Recruiter To Her Followers, March 21, 2016

On March 20, 2016, an American woman in Syria  who recruits women who might be interested in moving to the Islamic State, has promoted the personal Telegram account of a man who is allegedly a Belgian sheikh who helps interested parties with immigration to the Islamic State and who promotes ISIS ideology. Her husband, also in Syria, is known to help men interested in immigrating to Syria, or in financing projects in the Islamic State; social media accounts frequently refer such interested parties to him. On March 20, 2016, the woman posted: "For Hijrah [immigrating to join ISIS] and dawa'ah [propaganda] advices for Belgium brothers; please contact sheikh Abu Abdulluh Al Beliki."[36]

"Shoot Obama" Game Shared In Pro-ISIS Group, April 1, 2016

On March 22, 2016, a user in a private pro-ISIS Telegram chat group shared a link to an Android mobile game called "Shoot Obama." The "Shoot Obama" game files are hosted on Archive.org.[37]

American Who Claims To Be An ISIS Fighter Spreads ISIS Content Via Telegram Group, May 10, 2016

An American claiming to be an ISIS fighter, who calls himself Amriki Muhajer, posts numerous updates about ISIS statements and military efforts, as well as general propaganda.[38]

Female German ISIS Members Recruit On Facebook And Telegram, Share Life Experience Under ISIS Rule, May 24, 2016

A Facebook page and two Telegram channels allegedly operated by female German ISIS members currently residing in Syria and Iraq provide detailed reports about their emigration and life in ISIS held territories. The channels, "The Life of a Muhajira [Female Immigrant]" and "Diary of a Muhajira," regularly distribute ISIS-related media publications and aim to recruit supporters and activists from among German-speaking Muslims. Both channels provide similar content, but appear to be operated by different ISIS media operatives. Both address German-speaking Muslim women living in the West, urging them to join the Islamic State, and offer ISIS supporters interested in immigrating the option to establish contact with them and have their questions answered. By describing the stories of their successful immigration, they aim to serve as examples for others interested in joining ISIS.[39]

Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Threatens Christians In Tripoli, Lebanon, July 12, 2016

On July 12, 2016, the administrators of a pro-Islamic State Telegram channel called "News of Muslim Lebanon" posted a threat to attack Christians in Lebanon, especially in the northern city of Tripoli. The threat follows a recent series of attacks in the village of Al-Qaa' and the opening of radical Salafi cleric Ahmad Al-Asir's trial.[40]

Pro-ISIS Media Company Celebrates Orlando Attack: "America – The Moment Of Your End Has Come" June 16, 2016

In the days following the June 12, 2016 Orlando nightclub attack, the Al-Wafa' Foundation, a pro-ISIS media company which publishes articles and essays, published several articles celebrating the attack. Touting the fact that it had been carried out during Ramadan, "the month of heroism and victories," the articles expressed the hope that this signaled the beginning of a wave of similar attacks on U.S. soil. They went on to urge "lone wolves" residing in the U.S. to strike in the country, and praised gunman Omar Mateen for answering the call of Allah and the call of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Following are excerpts from an article published on Al-Wafa's Telegram channel on June 15, 2016, by one Abu Wahba Al-Gahrib Al-Kinani, titled "To The Taghut Of This Generation, America – The Moment Of Your End Has Come." The article stated that the Orlando attack was revenge for all the invasions carried out by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other places.

"This attack by a lone wolf who swore allegiance to the Islamic State was not the beginning, and it will not be the end. And if we examine the yield of this blessed attack against the homosexuals, we will find that during it 50 were killed and over 53 were wounded, Allah and His mercies be praised. All this was carried out first of all, and only, by virtue of Allah the Supreme. All this was carried out by one man – so imagine what would happen if Muslims and monotheists enraged about the desecration of things sacred to Allah united?! By my life, they would shake the foundations. This was also proof of the magnitude of the weakness of the enemies of Allah" which, it added, is expressed also by the U.S.'s fear of launching a land war.

It continued: "This blessed operation came during Ramadan, the month of heroism and victories, and it came in order to differentiate between the miscreants and the good, the hypocrite and the faithful. Whoever now shows solidarity with American and with the homosexuals who were killed never showed solidarity when millions of Muslims were killed in Iraq and are still being killed in Iraq, Syria, and other places."[41]

Swedish ISIS Fighter Launches Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel In Swedish, July 22, 2016

A Swedish ISIS fighter is active on numerous social media platforms. In the past he used Twitter to post messages and photos, but appears to have wearied of having his account repeatedly suspended. He is married to a Malaysian ISIS member. On his English-language Tumblr blog, launched in March 2016, he compares his life today to his previous life in the West, and insists that he is now happier. He also discusses aspects of brotherhood, fallen friends, and the strong bonds of comradeship he has developed with his fellow fighters. In a recent entry, he provided a link to a pro-ISIS Swedish-language Telegram group that he created.[42]

Following Publication Of MEMRI Report About Pro-ISIS French Media Entity, Account Is Shut Down – But Is Relaunched Hours Later, July 21, 2016

On July 15 and July 18, 2016 MEMRI published a two-part report on the French media operation "Ansar At-Tawhid" (AT), active on multiple online platforms including Telegram to spread the ISIS ideology and provide logistical and financial support to ISIS supporters wanting to join the organization or carry out attacks in its name. The reports also pointed to potential links between AT and the French terrorist Larossi Abballa who carried out a double assassination near Paris on June 12, 2016. On the night between June 17 and 18, AT's Telegram account was shut down by the Telegram administration, only to reopen several hours later with the same content and objectives. After the closure of the Telegram account, several other pro-ISIS accounts spread the news and shared the link to the new account:

Below is a screenshot of AT's new Telegram account, with comment by the administrator: "They censor us and we are back 30 seconds later."[43]

Pro-ISIS Telegram Channel Distributes Photos Of U.S. Soldiers At Saudi Base, August 2, 2016

On August 2, 2016, the Arab-language Telegram channel "Exclamation," which posts information about current events, shared photos of what it said are U.S. soldiers training in the Eskan Village base near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the post on the channel, the photos were taken from social media accounts. Some of the photos appear to be recent, as they show participants wearing shirts from a June 2016 running event in Saudi Arabia. Several photos are from a 2012 running event held at the base. The channel's administrator explained that "Hundreds of American soldiers are present in Eskan Village in the Riyadh airbase, where they operate the Patriot [missile] systems that protect the Saudi skies. They share their daily experiences on social media pages." A couple of the photos were shared by prominent pro-ISIS Telegram channel Dabiq Al-Khilafa.[44]

WARNING – EXTREMELY GRAPHIC: On Telegram, Jihadis Disseminate Death Photos Of Martyrs – Noting Their Beatific Smiles, Scent Of Musk Emanating From Their Bodies, And The Virgins Awaiting Them In Paradise, November 4, 2016

Jihadi groups, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, have long been sharing photos of dead fighters on social media platforms. Many of these pictured individuals are foreign fighters from countries such as the U.S., U.K., France, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bosnia, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Turkey, who came to Syria, Iraq, and Libya to wage jihad.[45] The following are examples of such posts of martyrs, which can be seen frequently, that have been posted on Telegram in the past few months. [46]


Shared on a jihadi forum on Telegram on December 28, 2015: "Abu Sa'eed Al-Britani: 'This was the first Shaheed I saw in dawlah (the Islamic State). Just look at his smile maashaaAllaah.'"

Shared on Telegram on August 4, 2016: "Life in Syria" – "A bro reportedly martyred in Haleb [Aleppo]... in sha Allah"

Shared on Telegram on December 23, 2015
...

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