ASSESSMENT: Mujahideen Secrets and the Snowden Affair
The Mujahideen Secrets program for crypto has been around for a long time for those who wanted to connect in the jihad online. I looked at it a long time ago and didn’t think much of it to begin with but it has been around a while and in use by some. Recently there has been some tongue wagging that the Snowden Effect has deeply scarred the GWOT because actors (aka the jihadi’s) are not changing their patterns of behaviour and creating new crypto and comms. While this program was out there for use to say communicate with AQAP on their Inspire gmail account it wasn’t as far as I have seen over the years the go to for securing communications for the jihobbyists. In fact, I would preface that people are people and crypto is hard so not many really adopted the technology in the first place.
Since the program had been kicking around the internet so long my assumption was that it was broken already or tampered with more likely to allow for easier reading by security services. So with that said and I think some others within the jihad actually thinking the same it became just another not often used tool in the arsenal for communication between the jiahdi’s on the internet boards. Of course one must also take into account just how many of these people on the boards are “active” in the jihad and not just “jihobbyists” who want to blow smoke online but would never actuate themselves into real terroristic actions.
Pre and Post Snowden:
So the articles out there from Recorded Future which is pretty much a theft of a MEMRI document by the way, purport that since Snowden dropped all his data online people are changing their operational patterns. I say that they perhaps are just seeing the crust of the data and not the innards of the problem statement. There may be a lot of chatter about not using Mujahideen Secrets anymore or of using other technologies but one has to look at the problem from the social/networking standpoint of a fractured AQ/Global jihad now as well. This is where I think they are failing.
GIMF is back and the groups are scrabbling for purchase in the jihad because of things like ISIS causing a stir, Boko Haram as well, and other players out there looking to be the big boss of jihad. Online the boards have been rife with hack attacks, paranoia, and a general malaise of people not actually doing anything but the usual spewing of dogma and posturing. So really, when one starts talking about the online jihad and the use of crypto the reality is on the whole that the online jihad is just a side show to the real deal that happens off the net. Communications are being handled offline now altogether with couriers and paper or USB drives and phones. It has been that way for a long time actually and the general public just doesn’t get this from the press.
The final analysis of this story is pretty simple and it is this; Mujahideen secrets and the other new technologies being offered by GIMF are just fluff. The changing of tactics is only natural post any kind of leak that the nation states are watching and frankly since Snowden this should be a global reality and thus no surprise really. All of the people bemoaning it are just doing so in my mind to tow the party line and aren’t really facing the reality that the game is up. Secondarily, in the case of the jihad the game was pretty much a kids game to boot so please don’t moan about it in the press to make the general populace feel the fear again so you can go on about your business of “surveilling all the things”
This is much more a political power play than it is anything else and reading this tripe in the news makes me gag.