CYBER JIHAD: SOCIAL MEDIA AS MODERN TERRORIST’S WEAPONS

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HOW ISLAMIC TERRORISTS (AB)USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN GLOBAL DIGITAL WORLD?

FACEBOOK AND TWITTER WAR

“The battle against Terrorism is not only a military fight but primarily a battle of information”

-Ahmed Chalabi

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Cyber Warfare becomes more and more our reality. It is happening every day through the small steps and plots which are made by those who crawl out from their dark web  and attack our comfort zone.With the significant rise of importance of Internet in our lives, doesn’t surprise how much we are fragile when it comes to the cyber security. Actually, without world wide web, we would be all broken. That’s why it is urgent to make adequate global cyber counter crime and cyber  counter terrorism policy which would act immediately after any attack or even to prevent act.

I like to distinct cyber crime from cyber terrorism. The INFOSEC Institute offers the following explanation:” Cyberterrorism was coined by Barry Collin in the 1980’s.According to NATO (2008), cyberterrorism is “a cyber attack using or exploiting computer or communication networks to cause sufficient destruction to generate fear or intimidate a society into an ideological goal.Some scholars or politicians avoid labelling acts as cyberterrorism, insisting on the assertion that these acts are mere hacking or so-called hacktivism. In their view, cyber attacks cannot bring about the same amount of death, destruction, or fear as with more traditional forms of terrorism. The word ‘hacking’ become known in the beginning of the 1970’s when Altair 8800, the first personal computer, was created. The purchaser had to not only assemble the machinery himself, but also had to install the software as well .Let’s examine the derivative term ‘hacktivism.’ This is a word which combines two actions – hacking and activism. In short, hacktivism stands for low-level computer network attacks or digital activity which cause in most cases only temporary nuisance. Like cyberterrorists, hacktivists pursue political goals, but their activity does not correspond quantitatively or qualitatively with the possible outcome of cyberterrorist acts.” 

This is cyber terrorism while cyber crime covers the variety of illegal activities like: attacks against official computer data or government networks, Internet theft, Internet fraud, abuse of online banking services, distribution of sexual content concerning children, distribution of malicious software, Botnets, email scam and misuse of intellectual property.  The first one is directly attacking the human cyber  security and the second is more based on causing the financial damages to targets.

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In the last 3 years, we have faced with the global insecurity regarding the growth of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and all massacre which has followed ISIS project of disaster on the Middle East. The Islamic Terrorism got a new image and new mascot-ISIS-ISIL-DAESH. However we call them, they are the same evil. Currently, unstoppable because the global powers cant find themselves in interests in Levant region so they would finally eliminate this terrorist phantom so called state. Millions of immigrants are all over the Europe and it seems that hijra will last forever. It is not anymore about refugees and their destroyed lives, it is about the destruction of the whole region with no mercy and about the awakening of extremism in the name of religion. That evil spirit wont be pushed back to bottle so easy. This is a breaking point of the whole civilization.

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The real ground terrorism has its preliminary online propaganda. That is a modern chapter in terrorism studies. Before ISIS became the terrorist organization number 1, other terrorist organizations didn’t use or haven’t been able to use so much the advantages of technology. Majority of them would send out  video tapes or simple clips sometimes to the YOU TUBE channels and that would have been all. The ISIS campaign and deep popularity among possible terrorist supporters and future militants should be found in active cyber work and activism on popular social media. ISIS is a master of online information  warfare and the expert in turning the terrorism  into attractive brand for sociopaths  and being  terrorists into paid and challenging  profession.

How ISIS benefits from such effort to come and use social media against social media? According to New America Foundation research, the average age of recruited people who join to ISIS from the West is about 24 years old. They are high-tech generations, young people who were raised up with Internet tools and their life is shaped by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube and other  popular digital platforms.

Gathering young cyber warriors with the ground jihadists, ISIS made some solid shooting weapon against enemies. The dream of the Islamic State that is a state and not a simple terrorist group is something they try to show on their daily activities in online world. They didn’t want to adopt old terrorism patterns to attack and run away but to talk to the public like any other normal government authority with the small difference because of beheading the people  for cyber popularity. It is enough to open the Instagram account in the name of caliphate and seeing how they are trying to present themselves as normal as they could ever be. Lots of pictures which celebrate their ideology which is sublimed in one single a bit sinister flag. That flag is very easy to be recognized and that is how terrorist made a brand, almost like a trade mark:“The flag is often called the Black Standard or the Black Banner. The black banner of Islam as an idea goes back to the 8th century, when the Second Dynasty of Islam came to power with black banners, according to Jonathan Bloom, a professor of Islamic Art at Boston College.The white writing that you see at the top of the flag is the first half of an Islamic phrase called the shahada, or declaration of faith, which reads: ‘There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.’The entire shahada is found on many different flags throughout the Islamic world, including the official state flag of Saudi Arabia.Another appropriated symbol on the flag is the white circle at its center, which contains the second part of the shahada: ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of God (Allah).’ It’s meant to represent the official seal of the Prophet Muhammad, but Blooms says scholars have long debated what that seal actually looked like.The two Arabic phrases, the black color of the flag and even the ancient looking font of the Arabic all work to evoke an image of the historical Islamic caliphate, the massive state that ISIS claims to have resurrected.”

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The black flag with white letters is not only a symbol of awakening of evil but also the symbol of ISIS online celebrity. Wherever they have a chance to post something regarding their work, they do that. Their campaign with jihad cats was attracted many people who were intrigued to see adorable cats with guns and rifles in military scarfs. We shouldnt forget how some of ISIS fighters have posted their own children photos but poor babies and young kids were dressed into ISIS clothes and were forced to pose with guns or even taught to behead their own toys.

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They are abusing twitter in every single hour by fake accounts and taking away the hashtags. It is interesting that many of their made up fake accounts aren’t regularly visible but only through the window of redirecting or through the Tor project. The Tor project software enables approach to dark web and anonymously activities over there. Beside Twitter, they recruit potential militants via Facebook too. It is enough to follow some  of Muslim Facebook accounts and to be sure that they are supporters of Islamic Terrorism through the post they are sharing and the connections they are approving. As long as they support them in verbal way it is not dangerous as it is when they are officially indoctrinated in terrorism ideology. They have also people who can play on emotions of possible recruiters and offering them new ticket to Islamic Paradise. Convincing them they they would do good things if they join them or at least if they help the best way they are able to. The most of  encrypted discussions are lead on Ask.fm network but some of them could be found also in Dabiq, the monthly publication of ISIS in English language. The hit target of the Islamic state are people who dont speak Arabic.They should be attracted, intrigued and rest of them should be motivated to join and to contribute. It is said that the master mind of Paris attack in November of 2015, Abdelhamid Abaaoud gave the interview to online magazine of ISIS- Dabiq about his “invisible jihad work” in Europe, some months before chaos in France was happened.

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ISIS hell team is very professional when we talk about viral marketing and public relations. They are acting almost like they are some MTV stars. They have  learnt very fast that popularity brings approach to the possible recruitment body. They offer interactive deadly shows. Just to remind that they inspired thousands of their supporters to start sharing posts about ideas how to kill Jordanian pilot. Not only that, they almost invite people to be involved in their bloody debates about raping, beheading or destroying the kuffr. They unite other smaller groups for terror and share with them the cake of horror. This is all viral campaign which has no ends.

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Luckily, the normal world still has proud cyber knights who detect ISIS terrorists and shut them down in cyber space. One of them is Anonymous which detects terrorist accounts on social media and locate them or destroy them but definitely cooperate with intelligence services. They combine DDOS attacks, doxing and sabotage and above all, they break up the encrypted discussions, revelaing the terrorist strategies or contacts. There are those who get into some kind of counter work and try to infiltrate among potential recruiters so they start counter-ISIS hachathons. Some brave Muslim people who live under ISIS authority started even blogs to inform others about the reality of life in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria so they destroy the promising propaganda of terrorists.

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The challenge of new digital world is bringing to us endangered real security by virtual. Somewhere in between, we must find ourselves ready to defend the last levels of the freedom, freedom of speech which is used against us.

The ISIS cyber life will not being stopped unless we all lock them in dark web without allowing our curiosity to let them out, in our visible world, to kill us with our own weapons, technology.

 

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