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October 22, 2014 0

Pro-Hezbollah Hackers Target Media Group For Its Position On Israel

On Octo­ber 20, pro-Hezbollah hack­ers took con­trol of the Twit­ter account of a promi­nent Lebanese Chris­t­ian TV sta­tion, Murr Tele­vi­sion, known as MTV Lebanon, because the sta­tion allegedly failed to describe Hamas com­bat­ants killed in the fight­ing with Israel as “martyrs.”mtv-lebanon-hacking-hezbollah

The hack­ers changed the Twit­ter account’s cover image to a photo of a Hezbol­lah fighter under a Hezbol­lah flag and tweeted a mes­sage from the account stating:

“[Only] when you learn the dif­fer­ence between a mar­tyr and a killed [per­son], between an agent [of Israel] and a resis­tance fighter…. [Only] When you learn that Israel is the enemy, then your account will return to you. So we don’t for­get Palestine.@MTVLebanonNews.”

While no group has claimed respon­si­bil­ity for the hack­ing, Hezbol­lah’s media arm,Al Manar, praised the attack in a report pub­lished yes­ter­day that read in part, “For sev­eral hours today, the flag of Hezbol­lah kept wav­ing over the pub­lic page of MTV twit­ter account.”

The hack­ing of MTV Lebanon and sub­se­quent prais­ing of it by Hezbollah’s media arm could rep­re­sent a new tac­tic in the way ter­ror­ist groups in the Mid­dle East attack their oppo­nents online and spread their ide­ol­ogy to a wider audi­ence. It does not appear that Hezbol­lah has pre­vi­ously endorsed cyber-attacks against its opponents.

ADL has tracked sev­eral hack­ing oper­a­tions against Jew­ish and Israeli insti­tu­tions by anti-Israel groups.

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September 12, 2014 3

Hezbollah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time

Update — 9/19/14: In response to the removal of the app from the Google Play store, Al Manar posted a state­ment attribut­ing the removal to a “cam­paign by the Jew­ish Anti-Defamation League” and promised to find “alter­na­tive ways to pro­vide the appli­ca­tion for Android phones.”

Update — 9/13/14: ADL alerted Google to the re-launched app on Sep­tem­ber 12. The app was removed from Google play later that day. ADL applauds Google’s response to Al-Manar’s repeated attempts to re-introduce this app. 

Last week, al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media arm which is listed as a “Spe­cially Des­ig­nated Global Ter­ror­ist Entity” by the U.S. gov­ern­ment, launched an Android phone app through the Google Play online store pro­vid­ing mobile access to its satel­lite tele­vi­sion sta­tion, also known as al-Manar.

Hezbollah's al-Manar app for android

Hezbollah’s al-Manar app for android

Al-Manar adver­tised the launch of the app on the land­ing page of its web­site. The announce­ment asked media net­work fol­low­ers to install the app on their phones to receive al-Manar con­tent and news, includ­ing high pri­or­ity alerts.

This is the third time Hezbol­lah has launched an app with that func­tion; the two prior apps were removed from Google Play. In July 2012, Al Manar first adver­tised its newly-launched appli­ca­tion pro­vid­ing mobile access to its satel­lite TV. Avail­able orig­i­nally through Apple’s iTunes ser­vice, Apple soon removed the app for vio­lat­ing its terms of ser­vice. After the app was removed from iTunes, Hezbol­lah tried to re-launch it again for Android phones only, but the app was soon removed from Google Play as well. In March 2014 free mobile appli­ca­tions appeared on iTunes and Google Play to pro­vide access to Al Manar pro­grams via iPhone and Android smart­phones once more.

Hezbol­lah has attempted to use mobile apps in other con­texts as well.  In June 2014, Al Manar TVlaunched an online com­pe­ti­tion in time for the World Cup called “Expect and Win” that used the California-based instant mes­sag­ing ser­vice What­sApp.The com­pe­ti­tion called on users to sub­mit pre­dic­tions for which teams would win and offered prizes for select­ing the win­ning teams. In Jan­u­ary 2014, Al Manar started using What­sAppto deliver “break­ing news” via text mes­sages to sub­scribers and to allow its sup­port­ers to inter­act with the sta­tion.  In Feb­ru­ary 2013, the mil­i­tary branch of Hezbol­lah, The Islamic Resis­tance (“Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya”) pro­vided a col­lec­tion of free Farsi and Ara­bic lan­guage pod­casts on iTunes. The pod­casts pro­moted both the ter­ror­ist group’s and the Iran­ian regime’s mil­i­tant propaganda.

Con­tin­u­ous attempts by the ter­ror­ist group to re-launch their smart phone app demon­strate their deter­mi­na­tion to exploit mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to broad­cast mes­sages of hate and ter­ror­ism to their sup­port­ers worldwide.

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September 5, 2014 1

The American Face of Foreign Terror Recruits

marcos-alonso-zea-terrorism

Mar­cos Alonso Zea of New York attempted to join AQAP

U.S. intel­li­gence esti­mates indi­cate that sig­nif­i­cant num­bers of Amer­i­cans – as few as a dozen or as many as 300, accord­ing to some offi­cials – have trav­eled abroad to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Although most of these indi­vid­u­als have not been pub­licly iden­ti­fied, con­crete infor­ma­tion is avail­able about 20 Amer­i­cans who fought or attempted to travel abroad since the begin­ning of 2013. An analy­sis of their back­grounds pro­vides inter­est­ing sta­tis­tics that may sup­ple­ment our under­stand­ing of the peo­ple attracted to ter­ror orga­ni­za­tions and pro­vide clues about the many addi­tional, uniden­ti­fied Amer­i­cans believed to have trav­eled abroad.

For exam­ple, the infor­ma­tion tells us that:

  • They range in age from 18 to 44, but the major­ity are in their 20s.
  • Nine of them joined or attempted to join ISIS.
  • Six of them joined or attempted to join the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Three of them joined or attempted to join Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) in Yemen.
  • 13 of the 20, or 65%, are report­edly con­verts to Islam.
  • They come from across the coun­try: Six came from Cal­i­for­nia, two each from Min­nesota, Michi­gan, North Car­olina, Florida and New York. Other states rep­re­sented include Texas, Penn­syl­va­nia, Illi­nois, Mass­a­chu­setts and Arizona.
  • Only two of the 20 were women. (ADL has doc­u­mented 13 female cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents of the U.S. arrested on ter­ror­ism charges since 2002.)

The num­ber of Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied as attempt­ing to join ISIS spiked sharply in 2014. Seven of the nine Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied above attempted to join the ter­ror group just this year.  Whereas in 2013, half of the Amer­i­cans iden­ti­fied attempted to join the con­flict in Syria, but only one to ISIS.

This influx of Amer­i­cans attempt­ing to join ISIS is tak­ing place as ISIS steps ups its threats against the U.S., includ­ing behead­ing Amer­i­cans and expand­ing its sophis­ti­cated online media cam­paign designed to moti­vate and recruit westerners.

Indeed, con­fir­ma­tion by U.S. offi­cials that two Amer­i­can men with links to Min­nesota were killed last month in Syria is the lat­est indi­ca­tion that ISIS has replaced Al Shabaab in Soma­lia as the ter­ror­ist des­ti­na­tion of choice for Amer­i­can mil­i­tants. 

A full list of names follows:

  • Ahmad Abousamra of Mass­a­chu­setts: Believed to be work­ing with ISIS in Iraq or Syria (iden­ti­fied in 2014).
  • Abdi­rah­maan Muhumed of Min­nesota: Killed in Syria in August 2014 appar­ently fight­ing with ISIS.
  • Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain of Cal­i­for­nia: Killed in Syria in August 2014, appar­ently fight­ing with ISIS.
  • Don­ald Ray Mor­gan of North Car­olina: Arrested in August 2014 on firearm charges; believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Adam Dan­dach of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in July 2014 on pass­port fraud charges; believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas: Arrested in June 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Moner Abu-Salha of Florida: Killed in a sui­cide attack he car­ried out in May 2014 on behalf of Jab­hat al Nusra.

    moner-abu-salha-nusra

    Moner Abu-Salha of Florida joined Jab­hat al Nusra

  • Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley of Col­orado: Arrested in April 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Mohammed Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan: Arrested in March 2014 for attempt­ing to join Hezbol­lah in Syria.
  • Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in March 2014 for attempt­ing to join ISIS.
  • Basit Javed Sheikh of North Car­olina: Arrested Novem­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Mar­cos Alonso Zea of New York: Arrested in Octo­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.
  • Sinh Vinh Ngo Nguyen of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in Octo­ber 2013 for attempt­ing to join Al Qaeda. Nguyen had pre­vi­ously fought in Syria.
  • Amir Farouq Ibrahim, of Penn­syl­va­nia: Assumed dead in July 2013 and believed to have fought with ISIS.
  • Justin Kaliebe of New York: Arrested in June 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.
  • Nicole Mans­field of Michi­gan: Killed in May 2013, report­edly fight­ing with Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Abdella Ahmad Tounisi of Illinios: Arrested in April 2013 for attempt­ing to join Jab­hat al Nusra.
  • Eric Har­roun of Ari­zona: Arrested in March 2013 for trav­el­ing to Syria to fight with Jab­hat al Nusra. He pleaded guilty to non-terror-related charges in Sep­tem­ber, 2013, and was sen­tenced to time served. That Har­roun fought in Syria is uncon­tested; how­ever, reports dif­fer as to whether he fought with Jab­hat al Nusra or with the Syr­ian Free Army, which is not con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist organization.
  • Matthew Aaron Llaneza of Cal­i­for­nia: Arrested in Feb­ru­ary 2013 for attempted domes­tic ter­ror­ism and plans to travel to join the Tal­iban in Afghanistan.
  • Shel­ton Thomas Bell of Florida: Arrested in Jan­u­ary 2013 for attempt­ing to join AQAP.

In addi­tion to those indi­vid­u­als above, two appar­ent Amer­i­cans have been fea­tured in pro­pa­ganda videos from Syria, although their iden­ti­ties have not been fully verified:

  • A man called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi, allegedly Amer­i­can of Trinida­dian ori­gin, fea­tured sup­port­ing ISIS in a video released in August 2014.
  • A man called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, allegedly Amer­i­can, fea­tured sup­port­ing ISIS in a video released Novem­ber 2013.

Yet another Amer­i­can has been iden­ti­fied as fight­ing with ISIS because of his death in a Syr­ian airstrike in Sep­tem­ber 2014. Fur­ther infor­ma­tion about that indi­vid­ual has not yet been released.

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