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September 12, 2014 0

Hezbollah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time

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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August 20, 2014 0

Americans Respond To ISIS Recruitment

Update– 8/27/14: Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain of San Diego, died while fight­ing with ISIS in Syria in August 2014.

Even as it fights on a num­ber of fronts in the Mid­dle East, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an al Qaeda-inspired ter­ror­ist group that claims sov­er­eignty in sec­tions of Syria and Iraq, con­tin­ues to recruit west­ern­ers through its sophis­ti­cated online pro­pa­ganda cam­paign.al-hayat-ad-propaganda

Some Amer­i­cans are heed­ing the call.

In 2014, five of the six Amer­i­cans arrested in the U.S. for attempt­ing to join the con­flict in Syria and Iraq were accused of attempt­ing to join ISIS: Don­ald Ray Mor­gan of North Car­olina in August (arrested on weapons charges but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Shan­non Mau­reen Con­ley of Col­orado in July; Adam Dandich of Cal­i­for­nia in July (charged with pass­port fraud but believed to have been attempt­ing to join ISIS); Michael Todd Wolfe of Texas in June; and Nicholas Teau­sant of Cal­i­for­nia in March. The sixth, Mohammed Has­san Ham­dan of Michi­gan, allegedly attempted to fight in Syria with Hezbol­lah.

Fur­ther­more, In June the FBI said it launched an inves­ti­ga­tion into 15 Somali Amer­i­cans from Min­nesota believed to have joined ISIS.

At least two other Amer­i­cans have appeared in videos released by ISIS and Jab­hat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda affil­i­ate in Syria.A video released in August 2014 fea­tured an alleged Amer­i­can national called Abu Abdu­rah­man al-Trinidadi encour­ag­ing oth­ers to join ISIS. And in May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was iden­ti­fied in a Jab­hat al-Nusra video as hav­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in a sui­cide attack.

U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials esti­mate that over 100 Amer­i­can nation­als have trav­elled to join the con­flict in Syria, a con­flict that has since spread to Iraq.

The effect of ISIS’ increased strength and noto­ri­ety, as well as its advanced online recruit­ment strate­gies, appear to be hav­ing an effect. Of the seven known Amer­i­cans who either trav­eled to or attempted to travel to Syria to fight with mil­i­tants last year, only one was believed to have fought with ISIS; a video released online in Novem­ber 2013 fea­tured an appar­ent Amer­i­can called Abu Dujana al-Amriki, prais­ing ISIS.

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August 20, 2014 0

ISIS Backs Up Threats Against U.S. With Beheading

Update – 9/3/2014: On Sep­tem­ber 2, 2014, an ISIS video was released show­ing the behead­ing of a sec­ond Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Steven Sot­loff, again blam­ing U.S. pol­icy in Iraq. A third indi­vid­ual, this time a cit­i­zen of Great Britain, was threat­ened at the con­clu­sion of the video.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda inspired ter­ror­ist group, released an English-language video in which it depicts the behead­ing of a kid­napped Amer­i­can journalist.foley-beheading-terrorism-isis

ISIS is claim­ing that it mur­dered the jour­nal­ist, James Wright Foley, because of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The video closes with an image of another kid­napped jour­nal­ist kneel­ing next to what appears to be the same exe­cu­tioner, who states “The life of this Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

The video is titled “A Mes­sage to Amer­ica.” It marks a new approach by ISIS, mak­ing good on threats against Amer­i­cans that the group only began cir­cu­lat­ing sig­nif­i­cantly this June. Such strate­gies have been used exten­sively by the ter­ror­ist group to intim­i­date ene­mies and oppo­nents on the ground, but had not pre­vi­ously been employed against Westerners.

In the video, footage of Pres­i­dent Obama announc­ing the airstrike cam­paign is fol­lowed by a state­ment by Foley in which he asserts U.S. actions are the cause of his death. Foley’s masked exe­cu­tioner then deliv­ers an address in British-accented Eng­lish in which he depicts the U.S. as an aggres­sor against ISIS and the Mus­lims who accept ISIS as a state, and says that any mil­i­tary action against ISIS will lead to more “blood­shed” of Amer­i­cans. The exe­cu­tioner then beheads Foley. After­ward, the other kid­napped jour­nal­ist is shown next to the executioner.

The release may improve ISIS’s recruit­ment capac­ity. ISIS broke with Al Qaeda Cen­tral in Feb­ru­ary, and the orga­ni­za­tions com­pete for recruits, fol­low­ers and influ­ence. ISIS’s rep­u­ta­tion for vio­lent action sur­pass­ing Al Qaeda’s has already con­tributed to its recruit­ment efforts, and if this video is seen by extrem­ists as a suc­cess­ful blow to the U.S. it may lead more to join ISIS.

The video was announced on Twit­ter and on the social media site Dias­pora on August 19, and was linked from the Inter­net Archive web­site, an online “dig­i­tal library” that is some­times used by ter­ror­ist groups as a repos­i­tory for online media storage.

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