The following are some of this week's reports from the MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) Project, which translates and analyzes content from sources monitored around the clock, among them the most important jihadi websites and blogs. (To view these reports in full, you must be a paying member of the JTTM; for membership information, send an email to [email protected] with "Membership" in the subject line.)
Note to media and government: For a full copy of these reports, send an email with the title of the report in the subject line to [email protected]. Please include your name, title, and organization in your email.
By: A. Agron*
Part I: Background
The Venice, California-based Snapchat app, which allows users to private-message others and to broadcast public content, was launched in July 2011 by Evan Spiegel, today CEO, and Bobby Murphy, today CTO. The app has recently been in the headlines, as its parent company, Snap, Inc., has reportedly filed confidentially to go public. Currently, the company is valued at over $30 billion, and its 2017 debut on the market is highly anticipated. Snapchat has reportedly surpassed Twitter in its daily number of active users, which currently number some 150 million.
In a January 10, 2017 post, a Facebook user, whose profile states that he is from the Philippines, eulogized his friend, whom he referred to as an American," along with his wife. The post included a photo of his friend's dead body.
On January 11, 2017, the Taliban released a video on its Telegram channel filmed on January 1 featuring two hostages: Australian Timothy John Weekes and American Kevin King –two professors at the American University in Kabul who were kidnapped in August 2016. The video is approximately 13 minutes long, and features both hostages begging the American government to negotiate their release with the Taliban, or else they will be killed.
On January 11, 2017, a video of the German hostage Juegen Kantner, who is being held by the Philippines jihadi group Abu Sayyaf, was posted on Telegram. In the video, a masked militant threatens to behead Kantner if the group's demands are not met.
On January 8, 2017, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Telegram channel reported that one of ISIS's operatives in Turkey, nicknamed Fida'i Al-Hijra, has been arrested due to indiscrete use of the internet, and that most of the organization's media operatives in the country have been arrested as well. Fida'i Al-Hijra is likely a recruitment facilitator for ISIS supporters passing through Turkey on their way to join ISIS in Syria. The post warned all ISIS supporters who had any contact with him to take precautions.
On January 3, 2017, a rebel fighter in Syria posted a German-language blog post titled "Important: Sisters and Hijrah to Sham: Updated 2017" dealing with the topic of men, women, and children, migrating to Syria. The blog link was posted on the German Telegram channel Hijrah Sham, which appears to be supportive of rebel groups such as Ahrar Al-Sham and Jaysh Fath Al-Sham.
Issue 62 of the Islamic State (ISIS) weekly Al-Naba', published January 5, 2017, featured an article advising jihadis on how to evade drone surveillance and drone tracking and targeting of their locations. Titled "Escaping Drone Surveillance In Residential Areas," the article also sets out the different types of drones used by the anti-ISIS coalition for intelligence gathering, calling them "the eyes of the enemies." It also advises jihadis not to be intimidated by the drones, as they are not the only source of intelligence used by the enemy.
On January 3, 2016 the Islamic State (ISIS) information bureau in Ninawa province released a 40-minute video titled "Procession of Light" glorifying the martyrdom operations in the battle for Mosul that were carried out by local and foreign fighters, among them one from Russia.
On January 6, 2017, Al-Hayat, one of the media centers of the Islamic State (ISIS), released the fifth issue of its monthly magazine Rumiyah, which featured articles encouraging jihadis worldwide to carry out arson attacks against soft targets, including apartment buildings, hospital, factories, and churches. The magazine, which was posted on pro-ISIS Telegram channels, also featured articles justifying the killing of women and children, condemning Turkey for supporting Sunni militias, known as the Sahawat, to fight ISIS, criticizing Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia and Egypt for their association with the government, and encouraging Muslim women to produce many children and to marry their daughters off at a young age.
The pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Telegram group "Translation group" has been seeking individuals to translate ISIS videos into 12 different languages. The group is seeking English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Indonesian, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Pashto translators, and mentions that individuals able to translate ISIS videos from the original Arabic into any other languages are welcome as well.
In Issue 4 Of Al-Qaeda-Affiliated Magazine 'Al-Risalah,' Leader Of Jama'at Ansar Al-Muslimeen Fi Bilad Al-Sudan Explains: Boko Haram's 'Dangerous Deviations' Prompted My Defection, Founding Of My Group
In an article titled "A Message From Nigeria" in Issue No. 4 of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated English-language magazine Al-Risalah, which was released January 10, 2017, Sheikh Abu Osama Al-Ansari, the emir of the Nigeria-based jihadi group Jama'at Ansar Al-Muslimeen fi Bilad Al-Sudan which he founded in 2012, explained why he, along with others, had defected from Boko Haram, and accused its leader, Abu Bakr Shekau, of "dangerous deviations in creed and methodology." The magazine was released by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) and posted on its Twitter account.
The fourth issue of the English-language magazine Al-Risalah, which is published by Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, was released on January 10, 2017, and circulated by pro-Al-Qaeda Telegram channels. The issue includes an article titled "Inspire The Believers: The Story Of A Muslim Physician," which recounts the story of "Dr. Ahmed," a physician who decided to move from Europe to Syria to practice medicine. The article explains that medical skills are in dire need in the "lands of Jihad" in order to save the lives of both fighters and civilians.
On January 10, 2017, Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria released the fourth issue of the organization's English-language magazine Al-Risalah. One of the featured articles, titled "Russia in the Eyes of the Muslims," justifies the December 19, 2016 assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey and says that the assassin, Mevlut Mert Altintas, was "the answer to the prayers of the oppressed Muslims".
Issue No. 4 of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated English-language Al-Risalah, which was released on January 10, 2017, featured an article on the proper use of TOR (The Onion Router) network. Tor, which encrypts the user's Internet traffic by passing it through multiple relays or nodes, has been widely endorsed and used by jihadis for years.
The fourth issue of the English-language magazine Al-Risalah, which is published by Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, was released on January 10, 2017, and circulated by pro-Al-Qaeda Telegram channels. An article titled "A[n] Interview with Ansar Al-Islam" explains the Kurdish jihadi group's history: what it was doing prior to 9/11, how it began fighting the U.S. in 2003, its view of the Islamic State (ISIS), and what brought it to fight in Syria. The article notes that the group was founded in what is presently Kurdistan, in northern Iraq.
On January 9, 2017, the Islamic State's Ninawa province media bureau released photos of the execution of a man convicted of homosexuality in Mosul. The photos (below) show a representative of ISIS's religious authority (hisba) reading the man's sentence and then the convicted man being thrown off the roof of a building, as a large crowd that includes children watches.
On January 12, 2016, the Syrian branch of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) released Part 27 in its "Call from the Frontlines of Jihad" video series, which features fighters urging Muslims living in Turkestan to make hijra and join them in Syria. The series is presented entirely in the Uyghur language and is not subtitled.
On January 10, 2017, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a video featuring Swiss hostage Beatrice Stockly; in it, she sends a message to her family and to the Swiss government.
On January 12, 2017, the Mali-based jihad group al-Murabitun, affiliated to Al-Qaeda In the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claimed responsibility for an attack on a checkpoint in Mali on January 7, 2017. The claim was published on the Telegram channel of the group's official media wing.
On January 8, 2017, the Taliban published a statement on its website regarding the decision made the previous day by American military commanders to deploy 300 extra Marines to Helmand province this spring. Taliban Spokesman Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, stressed that the Taliban is not deterred and that it will not be difficult to fend off the advances of several hundred more troops. Following is the text of the statement, which is titled "Remarks by spokesman of Islamic Emirate concerning deployment of 300 American troops to Helmand."