McAfee: “Al-Qaeda Engaged in Online Military Training” You don’t say!….
Thus along with real-world activities, the jihadists use the Internet to pursue a psychological war, communicate and coordinate, finalize their strategies, and obtain financing. With structures such as the GIMF, they also distribute the necessary tools to see the jihad through to the end. They wish to create a “jihad virtual university” with the creation of a worldwide caliphate as its ultimate objective. Through the Internet they attempt to indoctrinate and encourage people to commit themselves to violent activities against their enemies.
One activity the GIMF is working on is the Caliphate Voice Channel (CVC) for video distribution. Another is the development and distribution of their own VPN and encryption software. The jihadist movements are reluctant to use standard encryption software such as PGP because they fear a backdoor within the implementation.
Evidently while not actually making sure that their product wasn’t going to hose the svchost.exe file, someone was attending a conference on Jihadist activities on the internet and their threat. Though I am glad that they are getting a rudimentary knowledge base on how the Jihadi’s are working online, I really wish McAfee would just stick to trying to not crash all our systems out there with a false positive on a known good file.
Anyway, the McAfee post does have some interest for me because I rarely see this kind of attention being given to the MO for these guys online. The only times I really see this is if you are at a conference or reading in specific LEO type journals as to how to find and combat “Internet Jihad” This information though is not new, the jihadists have been doing this since about 2003 with more reliance on the internet because their lines of communications have been scattered locally.
With the onset of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the impetus to not only communicate via the interent but to also recruit by it has become more a necessity for the likes of Al Qaeda. By making their reach more global with easy access from any point in the world that has an internet connection, they are able to proselytize, propagandize, and have a new form of C&C to pull the strings of jihad from anywhere, even that alleged cave in Tora Bora potentially.
Where the Jihadi’s have been doing new things is with the media. They have become very adept at creating not only phone cam videos of their shahid blowing up trucks etc, but now have full editing software packages and mobile editing rooms to create all kinds of propaganda videos like the recent Gadhan video dawa. They then propigate the videos to the internet via their own sites as well as stealth uploads to other legitimate sites unbeknownst to their admins.
What is more interesting though to me is the talk of using their own home grown VPN software. This would make it rather hard for anyone on the opposing team to see their traffic on the wire unless they had some man in the middle attack or had broken their particular version of crypto for a replay attack. The use of a VPN though, if they had set up an analogous TOR type of session that is an encrypted tunnel, then this would make things a bit more difficult to track.
The only thing I had heard them talk about of late was PalTalk, which indeed may be somewhat the same thing. PalTalk is a chat/voip product that they use to talk to one another securely.. Well as secure as it is.. I have not looked into that as yet. However, imagine then if they had set up stealth servers on popped boxes and are only using SSH sessions to shell in and chat? Perhaps super stealth sites or bulletin boards that are web headless but would serve a purpose as a meeting place as well as dead drop?
… But that would be for the tech savvy… Have no doubt that there are more than a few who are… But it’s certainly not mainstream for them as yet.
No, for the jihadi’s purposes, they want to have some security but also great accessibility to their content. They want to get the word out and to lure in the weak minded to their cause. Just as BVD bomber was posting on chat groups, these sites, like the ones I have been posting about, are advertised if you know where to look. Many of them are invite only and you have to know someone to get in anyway. This doesn’t stop them though from using YouTube and other sites to post videos of jihadi songs (nasheeds) to sing the praises of their comrades who have fallen as well as dawa’s and other recruitment materials. Just take a surf through there and you can see all the videos that go up daily.
Oh well, I am sure now that McAfee is on the case we are all safe….