internet issues » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘internet issues’
September 22, 2016

ISIS Supporters Capitalize on Attacks with New Hashtag Campaign

ISIS supporters are attempting to capitalize on the September 17 and 18 attacks in the U.S. – bombs placed in locations in New York and New Jersey and a stabbing in a Minnesota mall – with a new hashtag campaign on social media. The campaign began on September 20 but has yet to achieve levels of participation seen in previous ISIS hashtag campaigns.

isis-hashtag-campaign

The campaign, which uses an Arabic-language hashtag that translates to “In the heart of their land,” includes statements and images warning the U.S. and other Western countries of future attacks on their soil. Some of the statements also urge ISIS supporters to commit these attacks. The campaign’s hashtag phrase comes from a June 2014 speech by ISIS’s former spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, stating, “the smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer…than the largest action by us.” Adnani was reportedly killed in an airstrike in August.

Like previous ISIS hashtag campaigns, the new campaign attempts to actively engage ISIS supporters online by encouraging them to repost statements and images related to the campaign. These online engagement tactics foster a sense of community, and encourage supporters to get involved in the extremist cause. The current campaign also bears similarities to past ISIS hashtag campaigns in its attempts to “piggyback” on trending hashtags, inserting ISIS propaganda into other conversations and increasing the campaign’s visibility. Some posts for this campaign have featured popular hashtags including #Brangelina, #TerenceCrutcher and #UNGA.

Unlike previous ISIS hashtag campaigns, however, participation in this campaign has been very limited on Facebook and Twitter, which points to the impact of efforts by those platforms to shut down pro-terror accounts. Many of the accounts posting and Tweeting on the campaign’s behalf appear to have been created recently, and specifically for the purpose of the campaign. A majority of them were created in the last couple of days, and many have fewer than 50 followers.

It is noteworthy, as well, that the campaign is being conducted primarily in Arabic, rather than in English (although a number of the images include English text).  Previous campaigns featured multiple languages in attempts to recruit an international audience of supporters — and further intimidate non-supporters worldwide.

The threats themselves are also not unified, indicating an absence of coordinated effort. They include threats against the U.S., Brussels, France, and LGBT communities.

The following are examples of images used in the campaign:

isis-hashtag-campaign-2isis-hashtag-campaign-4isis-hashtag-campaign-5-pngisis-hashtag-campaign-7-pngisis-hashtag-campaign-8isis-hashtag-campaign-3

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 20, 2016

ADL Alerts Service Providers to Hezbollah Presence on Their Platforms

Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speaking on al-Manar television

Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, speaking on al-Manar television

UPDATE: 5/20/16 – Facebook & Instagram have removed the accounts identified in this blog.

Al-Manar, the media wing of Hezbollah, has long broadcast terrorist propaganda disguised as news to the Arab speaking world. After being dropped by two of the largest satellite providers in the Arabic speaking world, ArabSat (which dropped the channel in December 2015) and NileSat (which dropped the channel in April 2016), Hezbollah is relying increasingly on online platforms to maintain its viewer base. As a result, removal of al-Manar presence from online platforms at this time has the potential to significantly disrupt the group’s reach and impact.

Al-Manar, designated by the U.S. State Department as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity, currently has official presence on a number of U.S.-based social media and web platforms, most of which are linked from al-Manar’s official website. ADL has alerted the companies to the group’s presence.

ADL regularly alerts Internet companies to terrorist exploitation of their services, and most companies quickly remove the content when alerted. We have informed the relevant companies of these examples of Hezbollah use of their platforms and anticipate that they will remove the content once again.

Twitter

Al-Manar has an official Twitter handle, @almanarnews, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar website. The account appears to have been created in July 2010, and has upwards of 334,000 followers. According to the page description, “Al-Manar website News and programs. Al-Manar TV is considered the television of the Lebanese resistance against the Israeli occupation.” The description also includes a link to live streaming of al-Manar broadcasts on the al-Manar website.

Most of the Tweets on the al-Manar Twitter feed include statements promoting violence against the U.S., Israel, and other entities Hezbollah considers to be its enemies. It also features statements and speeches of Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah.

Specific examples of Tweets include one Tweet from May 18, 2016 that stated,“The American presence is an occupation that must be fought against,” one Tweet from October 8, 2015 with an image showing a stabbed Israeli civilian and a misleading caption that reads: “an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem;” and a link to an article that praises stabbing attacks against Israelis. Another Tweet from January 28, 2016 states, “The missiles of the Resistance (Hezbollah) disturb Washington…[because] Israel’s safety comes first [for the U.S.].

 

An al-Manar Tweet showing a stabbed Israeli civilian. The caption reads, "an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem"

An al-Manar Tweet showing a stabbed Israeli civilian. The caption reads, “an Israeli soldier stabbed in occupied Jerusalem”

Facebook

Al-Manar has an official Facebook page titled al-Manar Channel – the Official Page (in Arabic). The page can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar website and has over 4,000 followers. The page displays al-Manar’s official log and posts news about Hezbollah and links to live streaming of al-Manar television.

As on the Twitter feed, most of the posts on the al-Manar Facebook page include statements promoting violence against the U.S., Israel, and other entities Hezbollah considers to be its enemies, as well as Islamic extremist views and statements and speeches by Hassan Nasrallah.

Specific examples of posts include a cartoon posted on May 18, 2016 depicting an American soldier supporting ISIS and a post encouraging stabbing terrorist attacks in Israel with an image of a knife covered with the Palestinian flag with the Arabic text stating, “stab it in the heart of your enemy.”

A cartoon posted on al-Manar's Facebook page depicting a U.S. soldier supporting ISIS.

A cartoon posted on al-Manar’s Facebook page depicting a U.S. soldier supporting ISIS.

One of the posts, also dated May 18, 2016, includes an admission of the group’s violation of Facebook’s terms of service. It reads, “To our honorable and beloved page visitors, no matter how many pages they shut down. We will always be the voice of resistance which doesn’t know defeat or submission.  We invite you, oh you who love resistance, resistance fighters, and the leader of the resistance to stand right in the face of falsehood to call upon relatives and friends to actively participate in this page, which thanks to God and thanks to your efforts you will continue and win.”

Instagram 

Al-Manar has an official Instagram page called almanarnews. The page has 873 followers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar website. The page’s Arabic-language description states, “Al-Manar website News and programs,  al-Manar TV is considered the television of the Lebanese resistance against the  Israeli occupation.” The description also provides a link for users to “watch the TV channel broadcast.”

The Instagram page displays the official logo of al-Manar and links to live streaming of the terrorist entity’s TV broadcast.

YouTube

Al-Manar has an official YouTube page called Al Manar Channel 3. The page has 9,669 followers and can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar website. The page description calls it, “The official page of the Lebanese Media Group al-Manar channel-Lebanon.”

The YouTube page displays the official logo of al-Manar and links to media materials produced by al-Manar. The channel also has a live stream of the al-Manar TV station and includes posts and videos featuring Hezbollah’s military operations.

WhatsApp

Al-Manar has an official WhatsApp service called Al-Manar channel WhatsApp service, which can be accessed via direct link from the al-Manar website. The al-Manar WhatsApp service page also links to other al-Manar social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The service provides subscription options for groups of five or more people, or for individuals.

The al-Manar WhatsApp service

The al-Manar WhatsApp service

ADL previously exposed Hezbollah use of WhatsApp in 2014, including attempts by the group to interest WorldCup supporters in its services via WhatsApp.

Telegram

Al-Manar has an official Telegram channel called almanarnews, which has 17,538 followers and is accessible via direct link from the al-Manar website. The channel description states that it is “The official account of al-Manar channel on Telegram” and provides a link for users to “watch the TV channel broadcast” on the al-Manar website.

The channel displays the official logo of al-Manar and links to posts and videos from the satellite station.

Posts on the channel include extensive news about terror attacks in Israel, including posts that read, “Occupied Palestine: The martyrdom of the one who executed the stabbing operation in Jerusalem,” and “The enemy’s media: an Israeli attacked in a stabbing operation in Israel.”

On May 20, AlManar also launched two additional Telegram channels, called Almanarnewsbot and Almanarnews_bot, presumably as backup channels in case their original channel is removed from the platform. They have already begun to post news from the Almanarnewsbot channel, but the Almanarnews_bot channel is inactive as of this posting.

Apps for mobile devices

In the past two weeks, ADL has discovered and alerted platforms to the development of new apps that enable al-Manar streaming for mobile phones. These included an app on iTunes, which iTunes has since removed, and an app on Google Play. Al-manar subsequently posted a statement on Twitter recommending that its Apple users use Telegram to get news and alerts, rather than iTunes. There is reason to assume that Hezbollah will continue attempting to create new apps, as it has done multiple times in the past.

Al-Manar's Tweet advising Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

Al-Manar’s Tweet advising Apple users to switch to Telegram to receive news.

ADL has consistently documented Hezbollah’s creation of apps for mobile devices and alerted platforms to their existence each time. Information on each of these instances is available at the following links:

Hezbollah on Your IPhone: There’s an App for That (2012)

Hezbollah Re-Launches Apps; Blames ADL For Failure Of Previous Effort (2012)

Hezbollah Military Branch Offers Free Podcasts On iTunes (2013)

Hezbollah Is Still Trying To Broadcast Messages To Your Handheld (2014)

Hezbollah Android App Re-Launched For The Third Time (2014)

ADL also regularly monitors online presence and propaganda by other terrorist organizations, including Hamas, ISIS and al Qaeda.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 13, 2016

New ISIS App One of Many Efforts to Indoctrinate Children

A screenshot from the ISIS app with the letter Ba for Bunduqiya, meaning rifle

A screenshot from the ISIS app with the letter Ba for Bunduqiya, meaning rifle

Update – 9/27/16: In September 2016, ISIS released an updated version of the app, along with an accompanying workbook. The app and workbook were announced on Twitter and Telegram and were downloadable from file sharing sites.

ISIS has released a mobile app designed to teach young children the Arabic alphabet while simultaneously indoctrinating them with militant ideology. The app was shared via ISIS channels on the chat application Telegram and made available on file sharing sites, many of which have since deleted the link.

Featuring brightly colored, cheerful graphics, the appoffers educational content for learning letters, such as songs designed for enabling memorization. However, the songs are filled with extremist rhetoric, and words that begin with the letters shown include gun, tank, rocket and bullet.

This is not the first instance of ISIS propaganda featuring or targeting children. The group has released multiple videos containing acts of violence committed or incited by children as young as toddlers, as well as videos featuring children engaged in combat training. Many of the group’s more positively themed videos, designed to suggest that ISIS is creating a utopian community, have shown children playing, singing, and enjoying ice cream and other treats. ISIS propaganda videos are not only exported to extremists outside ISIS territory but also are regularly broadcast inside areas the group controls. Reports have indicated that children within ISIS territory are regularly forced to watch the violent propaganda videos.

A young child in an ISIS propaganda video

A young child in an ISIS propaganda video

But ISIS is not the only terrorist organization to directly target children. ADL has documented several militant online video games created for children by Hezbollah, which Hezbollah claimed were designed “to strengthen the cul­ture of resistance” – meaning, to indoctrinate children.

ISIS, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations have also created other mobile apps aimed at adult audiences, with the goal of spreading their propaganda on as many platforms as

Children eating ice cream in an ISIS propaganda video

Children eating ice cream in an ISIS propaganda video

possible. ADL has just exposed a new app created to broadcast Hezbollah’s al-Manar news outlet, which was made available for download on iTunes.ISIS has also created several iterations of news apps. Currently active channels are featured on the mobile chat app Telegram and contain backup mechanisms so that if the initial channel is shut down, users are automatically added to a newly created channel and can continue receiving ISIS news and propaganda directly onto their mobile phones.

Children in military training in an ISIS propaganda video

Children in military training in an ISIS propaganda video

Furthermore, ISIS’s sleek and sophisticated propaganda is regularly aimed at audiences not considered traditional demographics for extremist recruitment. For example, the group also has a propaganda wing that specifically targets women and has put significant efforts into recruiting female members.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,