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November 3, 2015 1

“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 20, 2015 1

ISIS Promotes Murdering Jews in New Online Campaign

A banner promoting the ISIS video "Return the Terror to the Jews"

A ban­ner pro­mot­ing the ISIS video “Return the Ter­ror to the Jews”

Offi­cial media out­lets for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have released offi­cial pro­pa­ganda videos and state­ments encour­ag­ing and incit­ing vio­lence against Jews in Israel.

The pro­pa­ganda is yet another addi­tion to the cacoph­ony of online calls for mur­der­ing Jews and Israelis, which have already been prop­a­gated by Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions, indi­vid­u­als cel­e­brat­ing and pro­mot­ing ter­ror­ism, and even main­stream Arabic-language news out­lets.

The ISIS pro­pa­ganda also serves to fur­ther demon­strate the per­va­sive­ness of anti-Semitism in ter­ror­ist ide­ol­ogy, and the way in which ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions exploit pop­u­lar anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sen­ti­ment to mobi­lize and recruit sup­port­ers. A recent ADL report, “Anti-Semitism: A Pil­lar of Islamic Extrem­ist Ide­ol­ogy,” high­lights this use of anti-Semitism with exam­ples from ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other ter­ror­ist organizations.

A screenshot from an ISIS video shows images of terror attacks in Israel

A screen­shot from an ISIS video shows images of ter­ror attacks in Israel

In its cur­rent cam­paign, ISIS has posted at least eight offi­cial pro­pa­ganda videos incit­ing vio­lence in Israel. The videos were posted on social media with an Arabic-language hash­tag that trans­lates as #BeheadThe­Jews; some were also posted under the English-language hash­tag #Slaughter_the_Jews. Trans­lated titles of the videos, which are instruc­tive of their con­tent, include: “Return the Ter­ror to the Jews,” “Slaugh­ter Them and Don’t Show Them Mercy,” “Ter­ror­ize the Jews, Oh Peo­ple of Beyt al Maqdis (Jerusalem),” “Mes­sage to our Peo­ple in Beyt Al Maqdis,” and “Mes­sage to the Mujahideen (fight­ers) in Beyt al Maqdis.”

Many of the videos fea­ture images of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are eas­ily rec­og­niz­able as Jew­ish because of their cloth­ing, and of Israeli sol­diers, includ­ing mul­ti­ple images of Israeli sol­diers engaged in Jew­ish rit­ual activ­ity such as eat­ing matzah and pray­ing while wear­ing phy­lac­ter­ies. They also show images and footage of attacks against Jews and Israelis, includ­ing bus bomb­ings and recent stabbings.

One of the videos, pro­duced by the media divi­sion of ISIS’s Nin­veh Province, clearly defines attack­ing Jews all over the world as fun­da­men­tal to Islamic extrem­ist goals. “Remem­ber that our war with the Jews is doc­tri­nal,” the video’s nar­ra­tor states; “it is a war between faith and dis­be­lief. There­fore, you must keep going with your fight and use all the legit­i­mate means in fight­ing them, includ­ing stab­bing and run­ning them over. Do not for­get about the explo­sive devices…” In a ref­er­ence to a Qu’ranic verse in which the entire world assists Mus­lims in killing Jews, the video’s nar­ra­tor goes on to say that, “Allah per­mit­ting, the promised day is approach­ing from which the Jews will not escape.”

A sam­pling of addi­tional quotes that encour­age vio­lence against Jews includes:

A screenshot from an ISIS video shows Israeli soldiers eating matzah, overlaid with an image of flames.

A screen­shot from one of the ISIS videos

  • “Bring back the ter­ror to the Jews with bomb­ing, burn­ing and stabbing.”
  • “Oh, you Monothe­ists in Pales­tine, to become lone wolves killing the ene­mies of God is bet­ter for you than to be with groups or par­ties that claim to be work­ing for the reli­gion of God while they serve as a bar­rier between the Muja­hedeen and Jihad.”
  • “Oh you peo­ple of Jerusalem, ter­rify the Jews.”
  • “Increase your oper­a­tions against the Jews who fed the Mus­lims all types of mis­ery and suffering.”

Some of the videos also advo­cate anti-Semitic con­spir­acy the­o­ries. “[Jews are] the mur­der­ers of the prophets and mes­sen­gers,” alleged one of the videos, which went on to accuse Jews of hav­ing “cor­rupted the faith of the Chris­tians” and “mis­led the Shi’a.”

Sev­eral of the videos bor­row footage from pre­vi­ous ISIS pro­pa­ganda pieces that threat­ened Israel. One of them, for exam­ple, fea­tures an image of a child exe­cut­ing a man that ISIS alleged was a Mossad spy. The orig­i­nal video show­ing that exe­cu­tion had gone on to sug­gest that the cur­rent chil­dren of ISIS fight­ers will go on to con­quer Israel in the future.

An image circulated online states that negotiations and elections will lead to destruction, calling instead for readers to "sacrifice our money and selves"

An image cir­cu­lated online states that nego­ti­a­tions and elec­tions will lead to destruc­tion, adding that what is needed is for read­ers to “sac­ri­fice our money and ourselves”

The ISIS pro­pa­ganda also fea­tures ban­ners and images released by Al Bat­tar Media, the same media com­pany that was active in releas­ing images call­ing for Israel’s destruc­tion last sum­mer; the cur­rent cam­paign has recy­cled some of the images from last sum­mer, such as one depict­ing ISIS fight­ers stand­ing in front of the Dome of the Rock, and has added new images as well.

In a notable shift from pre­vi­ous ISIS pro­pa­ganda on Israel, the cur­rent videos and posters are focused more on pro­mot­ing the vio­lence than on promis­ing a future ISIS vic­tory over Israel (although the lat­ter is depicted as well). This may be a result of the indi­vid­ual nature of the cur­rent vio­lence, which is not claimed by groups but, rather, is being under­taken by indi­vid­u­als inspired in part by the infor­ma­tion they find on social media. ISIS can there­fore seek to claim credit for inspir­ing future attacks and assert that it is active in the present con­flict sim­ply by encour­ag­ing addi­tional vio­lence online.

Sim­i­larly, the cur­rent cam­paign fea­tures a heavy focus on defend­ing the Al Aqsa mosque, with one video even show­ing footage of Israeli sol­diers and explo­sions in the mosque. This cor­re­lates with the excuse being used to jus­tify the cur­rent vio­lence, which stems from false alle­ga­tions of Israeli attempts to take over that mosque.

The videos and images were dis­trib­uted on Telegram, an app that ISIS now uses as a pri­mary pro­pa­ganda dis­tri­b­u­tion ser­vice, but they were also cir­cu­lated broadly on more main­stream social media sites due in part to the strong pres­ence of ISIS sup­port­ers on social media and the unfor­tu­nately wide­spread fol­low­ing of con­tent call­ing for the destruc­tion of Jews and Israel in the cur­rent cli­mate of vio­lence in Israel.

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October 9, 2015 1

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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