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November 3, 2015

“Telegram” is Latest Platform for Terror Propaganda

ISIS propaganda on the Telegram app

ISIS propaganda on the Telegram app

Update – 11/19/2015: Telegram updated its terms of service to include a means for removing illegal public content on November 18, 2015 and has since removed multiple ISIS channels from its platform.

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terror groups continue to seek out new platforms to broadcast their propaganda and connect with supporters, they have migrated to using Telegram, a chat and group application available for smartphones and desktop, as their primary medium for official propaganda.

Terror supporters continue to share and disseminate propaganda on Twitter, Facebook and other traditional social media platforms. However, the terms of service on those platforms reject users who actively encourage violent extremism and the platforms have been very active in removing content and users flagged for violations of those terms of service. Official terrorist accounts have therefore found them fully inhospitable, and even the accounts of terrorist supporters are regularly removed.

According to Telegram’s terms of service, however, “All Telegram chats and group chats are private territory of their respective participants and we do not process any requests related to them.” As such, the platform does not have effective policies prohibiting extremist speech.  That environment has enabled official terrorist channels to use Telegram as the first point of dissemination for official ISIS propaganda and for Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an Al Qaeda affiliated media organization.

Users can join groups on Telegram that function similarly to Twitter feeds, releasing a steady stream of content originated by the group’s owner. Among the groups currently operating on Telegram are more than 13 official ISIS accounts in multiple languages including Arabic, English, French and German, an official English-language account for the GIMF, and several unofficial pro-ISIS propaganda groups.

The English-language accounts created on Telegram include Khilafah News, a pro-ISIS account that boasts 2023 members; Nashir English, an official ISIS account, with 1352 members; and an official GIMF account with 1129 members.

Among the materials that have been released on Telegram are the second issue of a new English-language Al Qaeda magazine, Al Risalah, which calls on Westerners to join and fight on behalf of Al Qaeda.

The ISIS English-language Telegram account Nashir English also directs readers to find and download propaganda on a site on WordPress. Like Telegram, WordPress’s terms of service do not explicitly prohibit extremist propaganda, and so ISIS and other terrorist  groups can exploit the website without fear of being taken down. The new WordPress site linked from the Telegram account features all of ISIS’s most recent propaganda releases as well as ‘major releases,’ ‘Top 10 Videos,’ and past issues of ISIS’s English-language magazine, Dabiq. The English site also links to equivalent WordPress sites in German, Bosnian and Arabic. Additional links from the English site to equivalent sites in other languages on Blogspot, which is hosted by Google, were removed after ADL notified Google of their presence.

The WordPress site emphasizes ISIS’s ongoing presence on Twitter and lists Twitter hashtags that correspond with official ISIS propaganda material.

In addition to maintaining groups on Telegram, terror organizations are also able to engage in chats with supporters and potential recruits. The encouragement of active participation by supporters engages the supporters in dialogue with hardened extremists, furthering the supporters’ radicalization processes.

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October 9, 2015

Incitement To Violence Against Jews Spreads Online

An image posted on Twitter with the Arabic hashtag #TheKnivesIntifada

An image posted on Twitter

As violence continues in Israel, with a deadly shooting and multiple stabbing and other attacks against Israelis this past week, individuals celebrating and promoting terrorism have taken to social media to encourage violence against Jews and Israelis.

Violent hashtags including #stabajew and the Arabic-language hashtag #theknivesintifada are being used by a wide spectrum of individuals who appear to support the murders of Israelis. The hashtag #alqudsunderattack is also being used in conjunction with the violence, particularly by Palestinian organizations and their supporters seeking religious justifications for terrorist incitement.

Online videos promoting the violence have included a cartoon re-enactment of the killing of Eitam and Naama Henkin, a young couple killed by Palestinian terrorists last Thursday in front of their children while driving in the West Bank. The video parallels cartoon videos that grew popular during car attacks against Israelis last fall.

A tweet by Hamas states, "We congratulate and support all forms of resistance using our people as a weapon under the complexities of the security situation.”

A tweet on the Hamas Twitter account reads, “We bless and support all forms of resistance in which our people use whatever weapons are available under the complicated security situation.”

Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah have added to the climate of online hate. Hamas’s social media pages and website have applauded the violence; one Tweet from an official Hamas platform read, “We bless and support all forms of resistance in which our people use whatever weapons are available under the complicated security situation.” Another Hamas tweet said Israel had brought “lone wolf” attacks upon itself, borrowing the phrase from ISIS and Al Qaeda, which have encouraged independent, ‘lone wolf’ action in their propaganda materials. Other Hamas posts glorified individuals associated with the murders of Israelis.

Social media posts affiliated with the Palestinian Fatah party have included images of identifiable Jewish caricatures being stabbed with knives.

ISIS supporters online, known for their adept manipulation of social media, are vocal on the issue as well. Multiple ISIS supporters have posted online threats against Jews. One individual who is a prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter based on his persistent online presence, strong following among other ISIS supporters, and regular posting of pro-ISIS news and propaganda posted a series of Tweets encouraging stabbings of Jews, including, “Kill jews. Kill all of them,” “Stab a Jew

A prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter posted about killing Jews

An ISIS supporter on Twitter posted about killing Jews

today. Tomorrow. Everyday,” “Happy international stab a Jew day guys,” and “Stab jews and have a juice.” Another equally prominent individual posted a similar series of Tweets that included, “Don (sic) stop oh muslims ,They (sic) are the worst 123456789…… #STABajew,” and “One of the worst creation, 123456789…… #STABaJEW.”

Other ISIS supporters have posted statements claiming that ISIS will soon conquer Israel. Another prominent ISIS supporter on Twitter re-tweeted a newspaper headline, “The Islamist extremism plaguing the Middle East has arrived” with the caption, “We told you we were coming.” Another ISIS supporter posted a graphic depicting ISIS fighters in front of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem with the hashtag #Qaribanqariba, which is associated with ISIS attacks. Posts threatening ISIS attacks against

A tweet by an ISIS supporter suggesting that the terror group will conquer Jerusalem

A tweet by an ISIS supporter threatening that the terror group will conquer Jerusalem

Israel were also common during the violence in Israel last fall, when they were distributed by ISIS supporters as well as by official ISIS propaganda outlets.

A third genre of posts by ISIS supporters attempts to widen the conflict, making it clear that they believe it is not a localized issue but rather a global battle between Muslims and Jews. This type of sentiment is common in Islamic extremist ideology, which often attempts to portray local issues as part of a larger conflict between Islam and the West. One user, for example, wrote, “Do you want to liberate Qudus (Jerusalem)? You have to kill All Jews in the World.” Another wrote, “#Jews who kill #MuslimsThey amuse themselvesBy continuing to abuseAnd accuse of killingAnd refuse to stop this#ISIS #Israel #poem,” and, most blatantly, yet another wrote, “So see it’s not Israeli on Palestinian thing. This is a yahoodi (Jewish) verses (sic) Muslim thing. Islam vs. Judaism.”

ISIS actively promoted the above sentiments as recently as last month, when ISIS propaganda magazines in French and English both featured cover stories about Jews. ISIS has previously released videos threatening to conquer Israel as well as other propaganda statements that threatened both Israel and Jews. Additional examples may be found in the ADL’s recent report, Anti-Semitism: A Pillar of Islamic Extremist Ideology.

The online activity is broadly reminiscent of social media posts last November, when calls for and glorification of stabbing attacks against Israelis proliferated on Facebook, Twitter and other sites after a terrorist stabbed worshipers in a Jerusalem synagogue.

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October 7, 2015

Alibaba Takes Stand Against Materials Promoting Hitler

AlibabaEarlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League notified Alibaba,the largest online sales service company, about Hitler masks and other Hitler titled items available through their service.

Subsequently, Alibaba removed the products and suspended the vendor in compliance with their policy stipulating that Alibaba.com “generally prohibits materials promoting Nazism.”

They also indicated that they rely on the help of customers and groups like ADL to identify listings that go against their policies and, as a result, have included a new “Report Suspicious Activity” link on every listing.

ADL appreciates Alibaba’s responsiveness to this issue and has invited the company join ADL’s Best Practices and Cyber-Safety Action Guide initiatives.

Alibaba, based in China, has been in operation since 1998 and is one of the largest online marketplaces with daily transactions in excess of $30 million.

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