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Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category

The Psychology of “Neo Jihad” Radicalization

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The Paradigm Pivot:

Soon after the attacks on 9/11 the US and other countries began a “War On Terror” that attempted to disrupt and destroy the Al Qaeda networks. The military and intelligence wars on AQ have been very successful in that they have splintered the group, cut its main lines of C&C, and forced them to scatter into the hills of Waziristan and other places. The intelligence war began with stepped up surveillance technically as well as, after much spin up, getting physical assets on the ground and inserted into the intelligence gathering apparatus. Once the networks were set up, and the AQ infrastructure fractured, it became apparent to the leaders of AQ that they needed to proselytize in a different way to get more “recruits” for the global jihad that they wanted.

Once the realization set in, the AQ leadership began to move online to communicate, radicalize, and recruit new jihadi’s to the cause. As time went by and more of the networks were broken, the ranks of jihad began to thin out. This became a real problem for Al Qaeda and it realized that it needed a new paradigm to reach the “Western” ummah that they could try to sway to jihad. With the creation of GIMF, and AQAP later on, the footprint of jihadi propaganda and radicalization took shape online. Since 2001, we have seen AQ and affiliates grapple with how to get their message across as well as create channels for those who are not in the 2 lands, to radicalize, and then come to jihad.

This post is about not only the means that AQ, AQAP, and others have come up with as a response to the problem, but also a profile of the GEN2 jihadi’s online that are being radicalized and who have acted in the past as well as those who may in the future.

Online Jihad: 10 Years of Internet Jihad

A plethora of sites on the internet have been set up over the years by AQ and its affiliates to propagandize and communicate. many of these sites at first were just simple file upload areas and small bulletin boards. Today we have many mass media style sites including videos, tutorials, online chat areas, and private messaging. The PHP bulletin boards set up on domain named sites or on servers (stealth) that have been hacked, have been the most popular of all. With these sites, the jihad radicalization goes on with postings within pass-worded group sites like Shamukh (AQ) or Ansar.com.

For the most part, these sites have only been partially successful in being a command and control mechanism for AQ. They have failed to gather the swelling support that they would have liked on the part of the Western ummah and it is this lack of fervor that has them vexed. I have personally seen this vexation in AQAP’s “Inspire Magazine” as they have been trying to become more “Hip and Western” to get a new audience. All of their efforts though, have had lackluster returns. This lack of response on the part of the young westernized groups that they are targeting is likely to a few factors;

  1. The radicalization process is not in person
  2. The western mindset of the targets is more secular in nature and separate from the core AQ groups experiences
  3. These youths are not living in lands where war is ongoing
So, the target populations that they are aiming at are hard to reach and likely not predisposed to radicalization online easily. However, there are others who they do reach. These are a smaller group of individuals who are outlined below in the GEN2.0 section of this post. First though, there needs to be an explanation of the psychology of radicalization that will backstop the three points above on why the jihad is missing the mark with the western youth.

The Psychology of Radicalization:

Radicalization: The process in which an individual changes from passiveness or activism to become more revolutionarymilitant or extremist. Radicalization is often associated with youthadversityalienationsocial exclusionpoverty, or the perception of injustice to self or others.

Much of the classic radicalizing that happens within movements such as Al Qaeda happens when the like minded get together under the penumbra of a stronger personality that leads them. In the case of Islamic Jihad, there have been many Imam’s and leaders who preach this type of thought within their right wing versions of Islam. This is the core of the idea behind raising the ummah army to fight a jihad, the radicalization of the parishioners through direct proselytizing. Since 9/11 though, much of the Muslim community has come under scrutiny from intelligence gathering groups seeking to find the next cell of terrorists being exhorted to jihad by an imam or another leader.

In other cases secular leaders may arise, this may take shape in the form of someone like Mohammad Atta, or the like who are within a circle of like minded people (What Dr. Marc Sageman calls “a group of guys” theory) who “self radicalize” and either make contact with core AQ, or, they decide to act on their own, using the internet as their guide to jihad techniques and ideals. This may happen with two or more individuals seeking like minded people, or, a leader may inculcate them into their particular brand of thought.

A third and seemingly rising type of radicalization seems to be the Lone Wolf or Loner. This is a person either seeking to belong to something greater than they are, or, someone mentally unbalanced and moving along the lines of their own particular mental illness. The Lone Wolves and the Loner’s are dangerous in that they are now one of the primary targets of AQ and their propaganda/radicalization drive other than the “group of guys” The reason for this is that all of these groups can “self radicalize” without having to step into a mosque by reading online and digitally relating with other like minded jihadi’s online. The major difference being that there is no direct contact and, for most, this method of contact and radicalizing lacks the added social element of being in person as a part of a group.

This is a key feature of radicalization that needs to be understood. Since we are social animals, we need to feel that kinship and the only real way to do this primarily is to be within a social dynamic structure that includes physically being there. Online it seems, just does not cut it for most. However, there are others, the mentally ill, and those who are so socially awkward, that online seems to be the only way that they can relate, that have become the next generation of jihobbyists. This in tandem with the fact that now it is rather hard to make contact with, and access the core AQ group physically (i.e. going to a training camp in Waziristan) has made the online radicalization process the pre-eminent way for the jihadi process to carry on.

Jihad GEN 2.0: Lone Wolves, Wolf Packs, & Loners

  • Lone Wolves: Single actors who radicalize either by self or online groups but act alone
  • Wolf Packs: “The Group of Guys” Who radicalize together as a unit and attempt jihad
  • Loners: The single player who radicalizes online and may have contacts with some but is not a team player
These terms above have been bandied about for a while now in the CT arena. The reason for this is two fold. One, we have been seeing these types radicalizing and acting out. Two, AQ has also seen this trend and they are trying to leverage these small groups or single individuals to action. As stated at the top of this post, the lines of communication and radicalization have had to change since the war on terror began. It is because we have so cornered AQ and their afiliates in the 2 lands, that they have resorted to these tactics, and, they are finding it hard to have any good results. This however, has not stopped them from trying and also trying to innovate new ways to radicalize the Western ummah.

Lone Wolves, or the “Lone Wolf” The most likely candidate for the lone wolf is a second generation immigrant who feels some sort of synergy with their parents homeland. There have been a spate of cases where Al Shebaab had converts sneak off from the US to Somalia to train with them. The majority of these lone wolves in this case, were kids in their teens or early twenties that took off to join the jihad there. The premise though, is that these are people who are not necessarily part of any one group but seek out the jihad on their own. They often connect with the core jihadi groups in some way (Malik Hassan and Anwar Al Awlaki) and then act on their own in a more constructed and supported way from the core AQ groups.

A number of these “lone wolves” were caught here in the US when they were intercepted by the FBI in sting operations. These operations mostly consisted of assets talking to the lone wolf and asking them what they would do for jihad. What operations would they like to pull off, and offer that wolf the means to carry out their intentions. This for some, treads the line of entrapment, but for me, I think it is fair game because either way, the individual, unless being held captive and tortured etc, is not suffering from “Stockholm Syndrome” and thus acting under their own will. Social dynamics aside, these actors sought out the jihad, and in my mind, already have instabilities and predispositions that will inevitably lead them to do something with or without the help of an agent provocateur.

Wolf Packs are groups of like minded individuals who have either come together and then radicalized, or, have formed due to a strong leader. These are the most dangerous of the groups because they tend to be groomed by core AQ and, as a group, not only self radicalize, but they re-enforce their belief and action as a social dynamic. Wolf packs have been seen as the more organized and thus more dangerous element in this behavior model. An example of the wolf pack would be the Lackawana 6 or others who banded together and eventually went to an AQ training camp. Though, in the case of the Lackawanna 6, it seems as though they came back from the trip decidedly lacking the motivation to carry out a mission. This is likely because of their Westernized mind set. They did however provide material support to the jihad, and were convicted of this.

Another wolf pack though are the 19 who carried out the attacks on 9/11. The Hamburg Cell, as they were called, came together in Germany where they self radicalized at a local mosque and eventually made contact with the core AQ group. This group would be considered the progenitor of the wolf pack jihad itself and are lauded by AQ for their success. They are the model for AQ’s blueprint originally on reaching a western audience.

Loners are the last type of jihadi that the AQ core are seeking to incite. The loner tends to be an individual who is socially inept to the degree that some have actually been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Still others have proven to be mentally ill individuals who latch onto the jihad for whatever reasons are driving their psyche. On average, the loner can be seen as the spree killer of the group that feeds the need of the jihad in that they sow fear and confusion while potentially taking out numbers of people. An example of a loner would be Nidal Malik Hassan (Ft. Hood Shooter) who clearly was mentally unstable and went on a shooting rampage injuring 30 and killing 13.

Loners tend to be more the spree killers with guns than they are bomb makers. Another loner type would be Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to make a propane bomb alone. His training was incomplete or he was inept, because the device failed to go off. In the case of Shahzad, he also spent time in Pakistan (from where he emigrated to the US) with the Pakistani Taliban. His radicalization went on unseen by others around him and his actions became more erratic as time went on. I have not seen a psych evaluation of him, but from all that I have seen, it may well be that he too is mentally unstable.

Another couple of reasons to worry more about the “loner” type of jihadi are these:

  • They are loners, thus unless someone in the family see’s whats going on, it will likely go unseen until its too late
  • They are often here in the US and with guns easily available, make their spree killing scenarios most likely to work
In all, these three types of jihadi’s are the main targets now for the AQ and other core groups to radicalize and energize. The jihad needs recruits to carry out their war and the Qaeda have learned that they need not be the devout and pious to do so. The weak minded and the socially inept will do just fine.

Online Radicalization: Propaganda, Congregation, Synergy & The Online Shadow War

As mentioned above, the radicalization process online has mainly consisted of websites that cater to the newbie to the jihad up to the hard core members. Primarily though, these sites have been a means to gain new recruits for the holy war. These sites had been for a long time, rather blatantly operating online because the governments had not caught up with the technology. Recently though, there has been a change going on within the online jihad. Due to many factors including actions on the part of the hacker community, the propaganda machine that has been the jihadi bulletin board system online has begun to go underground as well as redouble its propaganda efforts.

AQAP’s “Inspire Magazine” releases also have been slowed down and the core’s processes for distribution tightened because of tampering with the files in the past and the worries that they have been compromised as a network online. Spooks and hackers have been infiltrating their networks and websites for a while now and they have caught on. Of course in some ways, the assumption should always have been so. However, attacks on the AQ propaganda sites have increased over the last couple of years to include complete take downs of certain sites through DD0S as well as compromise and destruction of their back ends. Since these occurrences, the smarter of the group have decided that it was time to create a new propaganda jihad.

Abu Hafs alSunni alSunni, is an exemplar of this mindset. He espouses that the propaganda jihad needs to be more layered and secret. His proposal is to hide the online jihad in plain sight, by making pages that have stealth links (gateway sites) that will lead the knowing, to the real sites where content can be obtained and ideas shared. His ideas were a bit ahead of the curve for most on the boards, but now, post 2011, the administrators and the core AQ I think, are taking a closer look at this model. As online sites that are non secret become more and more targeted, it is only natural that they jihad would eventually have to go underground to continue and flourish from a command and control as well as radicalization standpoint. By locking down the content with gateways to it, those who are serious could congregate behind the digital curtain and carry on, while the digital bill boards call to all those thinking about joining the fray.

As the online jihad progresses technically, so too will their followers and this is a concern. With technologies such as TOR (The Onion Router) and their “Hidden Services” one can now easily hide all content behind a network that cannot be tracked or traced. Online chats can be had in total anonymity as well as files can be left within the confines of such networks for only those who have the right address to get them (net/net meet the new digital anonymous dead drops) and it is here that once again the pivot happens within the dynamic of online jihad. Once the technological skills of the jihadi’s come online, so too will the types of attacks online that could be carried out by them as well as the success rates of kinetic attacks because they are using solid methods to transmit and connect with each other to plan operations.

Already we have seen this movement happening on the forums and it really is only a matter of time until some of these guys read the man page on how to configure their own TOR node with hidden services turned on. It is clear that the technologies are making it easier for them to hide in plain site as well as behind the technical curtain, so, it is my proposition that the next iteration of the GWOT have a component of psychological operations more involved. Just as I have said about the Anonymous situation ongoing, the greater successes are likely to come about because we better understand the players motivations and psyche’s.

Countering The Threat:

In conclusion, I see a two pronged method of attack to fight the online jihad:

  1. Psyops: The idea that psychological operations has always been a part of the counter insurgency effort. However, in the digital world this has been more the spooks territory than the digital warfighter. Of course the digital war is new as is the online jihad so it is a natural progression to see this type of warfare as well as detective process being implemented.
  2. Technical Counter-Insurgency Operations: As the technological adroitness grows on the part of the jihadi’s so should the capabilities on the counter insurgency online. It is understood that the US has quite a bit of technical know how online so it is an easier supposition to make that we will be able to step up quickly. However, it is the melding of the two (psyops/pscyhology and technical ops) that must happen to wage this battle well.
We are going to have to step up our online activities to meet the challenge and as far as I have knowledge of, certain areas of law enforcement need to play catch up. The AQ core will continue to reach out to the lonely and dispossessed to radicalize the newcomers as well as use the technologies we have created (privacy/hacking utilities included) to effect the outcomes they desire and we need to be able to counter them.

APPENDIX A:US Cases of Terrorism since 9/11

2002

• José Padilla. José Padilla (32), a native U.S. citizen, convert to Islam, and al Qaeda

operative, was arrested upon his return from the Middle East to the United States.

Although there is no question of his al Qaeda connection, his mission remains unclear.

He was convicted for providing material support to al Qaeda and sentenced in 2008.

A co-defendant, Kifah Wael Jayyousi (40), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Jordan, was

also convicted.

• The Lackawanna Six. Six Yemeni-Americans—Sahim Alwar (26), Yahya Goba (25),

Yasein Taher (24), Faysal Galab (25), Shafal Mosed (23), all born in the United States,

and Muktar al-Bakri (21), a naturalized citizen—were arrested for training at an

al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan.

• The Portland Seven. Seven individuals—Patrice Lumumba Ford (31), Jeffrey Leon

Battle (31), October Martinique Laris (25), Muhammad Ibrahim Bilal (22), Ahmed

Ibrahim Bilal (24), all native U.S. citizens; Habis Abdulla al Saoub (37), a U.S. perma-

nent resident from Jordan; and Maher Hawash (38), a naturalized U.S. citizen from

Jordan—were arrested for attempting to join al Qaeda and the Taliban.

• Earnest James Ujaama. Earnest James Ujaama (36), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested

for providing support to the Taliban.

• Imran Mandhai. Imran Mandhai (20), a U.S. permanent resident from Pakistan, told

an FBI informant that he wanted to wage war against the United States. He planned

to assemble an al Qaeda cell and attack various targets in Florida, including electrical

substations, Jewish businesses, a National Guard armory, and also, improbably, Mount

Rushmore. Under surveillance for a long time, Mandhai was arrested and subsequently

convicted of conspiracy to destroy property.

• Anwar al-Awlaki. Anwar al-Awlaki (31), a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico, studied

engineering in college and motivation in graduate school, then became an increasingly

radical imam. After being questioned by the FBI several times, he left the United States

in 2002 and went to Yemen, where he is now a leading spokesperson for al Qaeda.

2003

• Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah. A provisional arrest warrant was issued for Adnan

Gulshair el Shukrijumah (27), a Saudi national and legal permanent resident, who grew

up and worked in the United States. Shukrijumah was suspected of involvement in a

number of terrorist plots. In 2010, he was indicted for his involvement in the 2009 Zazi

plot to blow up New York subways.

• Iyman Faris. Iyman Faris (34), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was arrested

for reconnoitering the Brooklyn Bridge for a possible al Qaeda attack.

• The Northern Virginia Cluster. Eleven men were arrested in June 2003 for training

at a jihadist training camp abroad, intending to join Lashkar-e-Toiba, and planning

terrorist attacks: Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur Raheem (28), a native U.S. citizen; Sabri

Benkhala (27), a native U.S. citizen; Randoll Todd Royer (39), a native U.S. citizen;

Ibrahim al-Hamdi (25), a Yemeni national; Khwaja Mahmood Hasan (27), a natural-

ized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Muhammed Aatique (30), a legal permanent resident

from Pakistan; Donald T. Surratt (30), a native U.S. citizen; Masoud Ahmad Khan

(33), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Seifullah Chapman (31), a native U.S.

citizen; Hammad Abdur-Raheem (34), a U.S.-born citizen and Army veteran of the

first Gulf War; and Yong Ki Kwon (27), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Korea. Two

other individuals were also arrested in connection with the group: Ali al-Timimi (40), a

U.S.-born citizen, and Ali Asad Chandia (26), a citizen of Pakistan. Six of the accused

pleaded guilty, and another three were convicted. Benkhala was acquitted but was later

charged and convicted of making false statements to the FBI. Al-Timimi was convicted

in 2005. The case against Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur Raheem was dismissed.

• Uzair Paracha. Uzair Paracha (23), a legal permanent resident from Pakistan, was

indicted for attempting to help an al Qaeda operative enter the United States in order

to attack gas stations. He was convicted in 2005.

• Abdurahman Alamoudi. Abdurahman Alamoudi (51), a naturalized U.S. citizen from

Eritrea, was indicted in the United States for plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s

Prince Abdullah.

• Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali (22), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested

by Saudi authorities and later extradited to the United States for providing support to

a terrorist organization and plotting to assassinate the president of the United States.

2004

• Mohammed Abdullah Warsame. Mohammed Abdullah Warsame (31), a legal perma-

nent resident from Somalia, was arrested for conspiring to support al Qaeda. He was

found guilty and sentenced in 2009.

Chronology of the Cases

• Ilyas Ali. Ilyas Ali (55), a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, pleaded guilty to provid-

ing material support to the Taliban and al Qaeda. He attempted to sell hashish and

heroin in return for Stinger missiles, which he then planned to sell to the Taliban. Two

other defendants, Muhammed Abid Afridi and Syed Mustajab Shah, both Pakistani

nationals, were also convicted in the case.

• Amir Abdul Rashid. Ryan Gibson Anderson (26)—a native U.S. citizen and convert to

Islam who called himself Amir Abdul Rashid—was a soldier in the U.S. Army at Fort

Lewis, Washington, when he was arrested in February 2004 for contacting Islamic

websites related to al Qaeda and offering information about the U.S. Army.

• Mark Robert Walker. A Wyoming Technical Institute student, Mark Robert Walker

(19), a native U.S. citizen who, according to reports, became obsessed with jihad, was

charged with attempting to assist the Somali-based group, Al-Ittihad al Islami. He

planned to provide the group with night-vision devices and bulletproof vests.

• Mohammed Junaid Babar. Mohammed Junaid Babar (31), a naturalized U.S. citizen

from Pakistan, was arrested in New York for providing material support to al Qaeda.

• The Herald Square Plotters. Shahawar Martin Siraj (22), a Pakistani national, and

James Elshafy (19), a U.S.-born citizen, were arrested for plotting to carry out a terrorist

attack on New York City’s Herald Square subway station.

• The Albany Plotters. Yassin Aref (34), an Iraqi refugee in the United States, and

Mohammad Hossain (49), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh, two leaders of a

mosque in Albany, New York, were arrested for attempting to acquire weapons in order

to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat.

• Adam Yahiye Gadahn. Adam Yahiye Gadahn (26), a native U.S. citizen and convert to

Islam, moved to Pakistan in 1998. By 2004, he was identified as a member of al Qaeda

planning terrorist attacks in the United States, and he subsequently became one of

al Qaeda’s principal spokesmen. He was formally indicted in 2006.

• The Abdi Case. Nuradin Abdi (32), a Somali national granted asylum in the United

States, was indicted in June 2004 for plotting with Iyman Faris to blow up a Colum-

bus, Ohio, shopping mall. (He was arrested in November 2003.)

• Gale Nettles. Gale Nettles (66), a native U.S. citizen and ex-convict, was arrested in

August in an FBI sting for plotting to bomb the Dirksen Federal Building in Chi-

cago and for attempting to provide al Qaeda with explosive material. His motive was

revenge for his conviction as a counterfeiter, but he wanted to connect with al Qaeda,

which he figured would pay him for his excess explosive materials. He was convicted

on the terrorist charge in 2005.

• Carpenter and Ransom. Two New Orleans men, Cedric Carpenter (31), a convicted

felon, and Lamont Ransom (31), both native U.S. citizens, intended to sell fraudulent

identity documents to the Philippine jihadist terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in return for

cash and heroin. Ransom, who had previously served in the U.S. Navy, was familiar

with the group. Both were convicted and sentenced in 2005.

2005

• The New York Defendants. Three defendants—Mahmud Faruq Brent (32), a U.S.-

born citizen who had attended a training camp in Pakistan run by Lashkar-e-Toiba;

Rafiq Abdus Sabir (50), a U.S.-born citizen and medical doctor who volunteered to pro-

vide medical treatment to al Qaeda terrorists; and Abdulrahman Farhane (52), a natu-

ralized U.S. citizen from Morocco who agreed to assist in fundraising for the purchase

of weapons for insurgents in Chechnya and Afghanistan—were linked to defendant-

turned-informant Tarik Shah (42), a U.S.-born citizen who was arrested in May 2005

for offering to provide training to insurgents in Iraq. Shah identified his co-defendants,

and all four were convicted.

• The Lodi Case. Hamid Hayat (22), a native-born U.S. citizen, and his father, Umar

Hayat, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, were arrested in June 2005 for secretly

attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. Umar Hayat ultimately pleaded guilty

of lying to federal authorities.

• The Torrance Plotters. Kevin James (29), Levar Washington (21), and Gregory

Patterson (25), all native U.S. citizens and converts to Islam, and Hammad Riaz Samana

(21), a permanent resident from Pakistan, were charged in August 2005 with planning

to carry out terrorist attacks on National Guard armories, a U.S. military recruiting

center, the Israeli consulate, and Los Angeles International airport. (This case is some-

times referred to as the Sacramento Plot.)

• Michael Reynolds. Michael Reynolds (47), a native U.S. citizen, acquired explosives

and offered them to an informant whom he believed was an al Qaeda official to blow

up the Alaska Pipeline in return for $40,000.

• Ronald Grecula. Ronald Grecula (70), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested in Texas in

May 2005 for offering to build an explosive device for informants he believed to be

al Qaeda agents. He pleaded guilty to the charge in 2006.

2006

• The Liberty City Seven. Seven men—Narseal Batiste (32), a native U.S. citizen;

Patrick Abraham (39), a Haitian national illegally in the United States after over-

staying his visa; Stanley Grunt Phanor (31), a naturalized U.S. citizen; Naudimar

Herrera (22), a native U.S. citizen; Burson Augustin (21), a native U.S. citizen; Rothschild

Augustin (26), a native U.S. citizen; and Lyglenson Lemorin (31), a legal permanent resi-

dent from Haiti—were charged in June 2006 with plotting to blow up the FBI build-

ing in Miami and the Sears Tower in Chicago. Herrera and Lemorin were acquitted.

Chronology of the Cases

• Syed Hashmi. Syed “Fahad” Hashmi (30), a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, was arrested

in London on charges of providing material support to al Qaeda.

• Derrick Shareef. Derrick Shareef (22), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was

arrested for planning a suicide attack on an Illinois shopping mall. He intended to

place hand grenades in garbage cans, but the plot also involved handguns.

• The Fort Dix Plotters. Six men—Mohammad Ibrahim Shnewer (22), a naturalized

U.S. citizen from Jordan; Serdar Tatar (23), a legal permanent resident from Turkey;

Agron Abdullahu (24), a U.S. permanent resident from Kosovo; and Dritan Duka (28),

Shain Duka (26), and Elljvir Duka (23), three brothers from Albania living in the

United States illegally—were charged with plotting to carry out an armed attack on

soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey.

• The Toledo Cluster. Mohammad Zaki Amawi (26) and Marwan El-Hindi (43), both

naturalized U.S. citizens from Jordan, and Wassim Mazloum (25), a legal permanent

resident from Lebanon, were arrested in Toledo, Ohio, for plotting to build bombs to

use against American forces in Iraq. Two additional persons were also charged in this

case: Zubair Ahmed (26), a U.S.-born citizen, and his cousin Khaleel Ahmed (25), a

naturalized U.S. citizen from India.

• The Georgia Plotters. Syed Harris Ahmed (21), a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Ehsanul

Islam Sadequee (20), a U.S.-born citizen from Atlanta, Georgia, were arrested in April

2006 for discussing potential targets with terrorist organizations and receiving instruc-

tion in reconnaissance.

• Daniel Maldonado. Daniel Maldonado (27), a native U.S. citizen and convert to

Islam, was arrested for joining a jihadist training camp in Somalia. He was captured

by the Kenyan armed forces and returned to the United States.

• Williams and Mirza. Federal authorities charged two students at Houston Commu-

nity College—Kobie Diallo Williams (33), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam,

and Adnan Babar Mirza (29), a Pakistani national who had overstayed his student

visa—with aiding the Taliban. According to the indictment, the two planned to join

and train with the Taliban in order to fight U.S. forces in the Middle East.

• Ruben Shumpert. Ruben Shumpert (26), also known as Amir Abdul Muhaimin, a

native U.S. citizen who had been convicted for drug trafficking, converted to Islam

shortly after his release from prison. When the FBI came looking for him in 2006, he

fled to Somalia and joined al-Shabaab. He was reportedly killed in Somalia in Decem-

ber 2008.

2007

• Hassan Abujihaad. Hassan Abujihaad (31), formerly known as Paul R. Hall, a native

U.S. citizen and convert to Islam who had served in the U.S. Navy, was arrested in

April 2007 for giving the locations of U.S. naval vessels to an organization accused of

supporting terrorists.

• The JFK Airport Plotters. Russell Defreitas (63), a naturalized U.S. citizen from

Guyana; Abdul Kadir (55) a Guyanese citizen; Kareem Ibrahim (56), a Trinidadian;

and Abdal Nur (57), another Guyanese citizen, were charged in June 2007 with plot-

ting to blow up aviation fuel tanks at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. Defreitas

was arrested in Brooklyn. The other three plotters were arrested in Trinidad and extra-

dited to the United States.

• Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed. Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed (26), a U.S.

permanent resident from Egypt, was arrested for providing material support to terror-

ists by disseminating bomb-making instructions on YouTube. He pleaded guilty to the

charge.

• Omar Hammami. Now known as Abu Mansour al-Amriki, Omar Hammami

(23), a native-born U.S. citizen, left Alabama some time not later than 2007 to join

al-Shabaab in Somalia. He later appeared in the group’s recruiting videos. Hammami

was indicted in 2010 for providing support to al-Shabaab.

• Jaber Elbaneh. Jaber Elbaneh (41), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen, was con-

victed in absentia by a Yemeni court for plotting to attack oil and gas installations in

Yemen. He had previously been charged in the United States with conspiring with the

Lackawanna Six. He was one of a number of al Qaeda suspects who escaped from a

Yemeni prison in 2006. He subsequently turned himself in to Yemeni authorities.

• The Hamza Case. Federal authorities charged the owner and several officials of Hamza,

Inc., a financial institution, for money laundering and secretly providing money to

al Qaeda. Those charged included Saifullah Anjum Ranjha (43), a legal permanent U.S.

resident from Pakistan; Imdad Ullah Ranjha (32), also a legal permanent resident from

Pakistan; and Muhammed Riaz Saqi, a Pakistani national living in Washington, D.C.

Also charged in the case were three Pakistani nationals living in Canada and Spain.

2008

• Christopher Paul. Christopher “Kenyatta” Paul (43), a native U.S. citizen and convert

to Islam living overseas, was arrested upon his return to the United States in April 2008

for having plotted terrorist attacks on various U.S. targets. He later pleaded guilty.

• Bryant Vinas. Bryant Vinas (26), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was

arrested in Pakistan and extradited to the United States for having joined al Qaeda in

Pakistan. He also provided al Qaeda with information to help plan a bombing attack

on the Long Island Rail Road.

• Somali Recruiting Case I. As many as a dozen Somalis may have been recruited in

the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area by Shirwa Ahmed (26), a naturalized U.S. citizen

Chronology of the Cases from Somalia, to fight in Somalia. Ahmed subsequently was

killed in a suicide bomb- ing in Somalia.

• Sharif Mobley. Sharif Mobley (26), a native U.S. citizen of Somali descent, moved

to Yemen in 2008, ostensibly to study Arabic and religion, but in reality, authorities

believe, to join a terrorist organization. He was later arrested by Yemeni authorities in

a roundup of al Qaeda and al-Shabaab militants. In March 2010, he killed one guard

and wounded another in an attempt to escape.

2009

• The Riverdale Synagogue Plot. Native U.S. citizens James Cromite (55), David

Williams (28), Onta Williams (32), and Laguerre Payen (27), a Haitian national, all con-

verts to Islam, were arrested in an FBI sting in New York in May 2009 for planning to

blow up synagogues.

• Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad. In June 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid

Muhammad (23), also known as Carlos Bledsoe, a native U.S. citizen and Muslim con-

vert, killed one soldier and wounded another at an Army recruiting station in Arkansas.

• The North Carolina Cluster. Daniel Boyd (39), a native U.S. citizen and convert to

Islam who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, was arrested

in July 2009 along with his two sons, Zakarlya Boyd (20) and Dylan Boyd (22), also

converts to Islam, and four others, including three U.S. citizens—Anes Subasic (33), a

naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia; Mohammad Omar Aly Hassan (22), a U.S.-born

citizen; and Ziyad Yaghi (21), a naturalized U.S. citizen—and Hysen Sherifi (24), a

legal U.S. resident from Kosovo, for plotting terrorist attacks in the United States and

abroad. Jude Kenan Mohammad (20), a U.S.-born citizen, was also a member of the

group. He was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2008. Boyd reportedly reconnoi-

tered the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Virginia.

• Betim Kaziu. Betim Kaziu (21), a native U.S. citizen, was arrested in September

2009 for traveling overseas to join al-Shabaab or to attend a terrorist training camp in

Somalia.

• Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri (38), a U.S. permanent resi-

dent and dual national of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, was charged with attending an

al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. He pleaded guilty to providing material support

to a terrorist group.

• Michael Finton. Michael Finton (29), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was

arrested in September 2009 in an FBI sting for planning to blow up a federal court-

house in Springfield, Illinois.

• Hosam Maher Smadi. Hosam Maher Smadi (19), a Jordanian citizen living in the

United States, was arrested in September 2009 in an FBI sting for planning to blow up

an office building in Dallas, Texas.

• Najibullah Zazi. Najibullah Zazi (25), a permanent U.S. resident from Afghanistan,

was arrested in September 2009 for receiving training in explosives at a terrorist train-

ing camp in Pakistan and buying ingredients for explosives in preparation for a ter-

rorist attack in the United States. Indicted with Zazi were his father, Mohammed Zazi

(53), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, and Ahmad Afzali (38), a U.S. per-

manent resident from Afghanistan, both for making false statements to federal inves-

tigators; neither was involved in the terrorist plot. In January 2010, authorities arrested

Adis Medunjanin (24), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bosnia, and Zarein Ahmedzay

(25), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, and charged them with participat-

ing in the plot.

• Tarek Mehana. In October 2009, federal authorities in Massachusetts arrested Tarek

Mehana (27), a dual citizen of the United States and Egypt, for conspiring over a seven-

year period to kill U.S. politicians, attack American troops in Iraq, and target shopping

malls in the United States. Two other individuals, including Ahmad Abousamra (27), a

U.S. citizen, were allegedly part of the conspiracy. Abousamra remains at large.

• David Headley. In an increasingly complicated case, David Headley (49), a U.S.-born

citizen of Pakistani descent and resident of Chicago, was arrested in October 2009

along with Tahawar Rana (48), a native of Pakistan and a Canadian citizen, for plan-

ning terrorist attacks abroad. Headley was subsequently discovered to have partici-

pated in the reconnaissance of Mumbai prior to the November 2008 attack by the ter-

rorist group Lashkar-e-Toiba. He pleaded guilty in March 2010.

• Colleen Renee LaRose. Calling herself “Jihad Jane” on the Internet, Colleen Renee

LaRose (46), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was arrested in October 2009

for plotting to kill a Swedish artist whose drawings of Muhammad had enraged Mus-

lims and for attempting to recruit others to terrorism. Her arrest was concealed until

March 2010. LaRose pleaded guilty to the charges.

• Nidal Hasan. In November 2009, Nidal Hasan (38), a native U.S. citizen and Army

major, opened fire on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 and wounding 31.

• The Pakistan Five. In November 2009, five Muslim Americans from Virginia—

Umar Farooq (25), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Ramy Zamzam (22), who

was born in Egypt, immigrated to the United States at the age of two, and became a

citizen by virtue of his parents becoming citizens; Waqar Hassan Khan (22), a natu-

ralized U.S. citizen from Pakistan; Ahmad Abdullah Mimi (20), a naturalized U.S.

citizen from Eritrea; and Aman Hassan Yemer (18), a naturalized U.S. citizen from

Ethiopia—were arrested in Pakistan for attempting to obtain training as jihadist guer-

rillas. Khalid Farooq, Umar Farooq’s father, was also taken into custody but was later

released. The five were charged by Pakistani authorities with planning terrorist attacks.

• Somali Recruiting Case II. In November 2009, federal authorities indicted eight

men for recruiting at least 20 young men in Minnesota for jihad in Somalia and rais-

ing funds on behalf of al-Shabaab. By the end of 2009, a total of 14 indictments had

been handed down as a result of the ongoing investigation. Those indicted, all but

one of whom are Somalis, were Abdow Munye Abdow, a naturalized U.S. citizen from

Somalia; Khalid Abshir; Salah Osman Ahmad; Adarus Abdulle Ali; Cabdulaahi Ahmed

Faarax; Kamal Hassan; Mohamed Hassan; Abdifatah Yusef Isse; Abdiweli Yassin Isse;

Zakaria Maruf; Omer Abdi Mohamed, a legal permanent resident from Somalia; Ahmed

Ali Omar; Mahanud Said Omar; and Mustafa Salat. No age information is available.

• Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari. Abdul Tawala Ibn Ali Alishtari (53), also known as

Michael Mixon, a native U.S. citizen, was indicted and pleaded guilty to attempting to

provide financing for terrorist training in Afghanistan.

2010

• Raja Lahrasib Khan. Raja Lahrasib Khan (57), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Paki-

stan, was charged with sending money to Ilyas Kashmiri, an al Qaeda operative in

Pakistan, and for discussing blowing up an unidentified stadium in the United States.

• Times Square Bomber. Faisal Shazad (30), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan,

had studied and worked in the United States since 1999. In 2009, he traveled to Paki-

stan and contacted the TTP (Pakistan Taliban), who gave him instruction in bomb-

building. Upon his return to the United States, he built a large incendiary device

in a sport utility vehicle (SUV) and attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it in New

York City’s Times Square. He was arrested in May 2010. Three other individuals were

arrested in the investigation but were never charged with criminal involvement in the

case.

• Jamie Paulin-Ramirez. The arrest of Colleen R. LaRose (“Jihad Jane”) in 2009 led to

further investigations and the indictment of Jamie Paulin-Ramirez (31), also known as

“Jihad Jamie.” Paulin-Ramirez, a native-born U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, alleg-

edly accepted an invitation from LaRose to join her in Europe in order to attend a

training camp there. According to the indictment, she flew to Europe with “the intent

to live and train with jihadists.” She was detained in Ireland and subsequently returned

to the United States, where she was arraigned in April 2010.

Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff. Wesam el-Hanafi (33), also known

as “Khaled,” a native-born U.S. citizen, and Sabirhan Hasanoff (34), also known as

“Tareq,” a dual U.S.-Australian citizen, were indicted for allegedly providing material

In September 2010, Sami Samir Hassoun (22), was arrested in an FBI sting in Chicago

for attempting to carry out a ter-rorist bombing. Hassoun expressed anger at Chicago

Mayor Richard Daley. It is not clear that the case is jihadist-related.

In December 2010, Awais Younis (26), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, was

arrested for threatening to bomb the Washington, D.C., Metro system. He made the threat on

Facebook, and it was reported to the authorities. Neither of these cases is included in the chronology.

support to a terrorist group. The two men, one of whom traveled to Yemen in 2008,

provided al Qaeda with computer advice and assistance, along with other forms of aid.

• Khalid Ouazzani. Khalid Ouazzani (32) pleaded guilty in May to providing material

support to a terrorist group. Ouazzani, a Moroccan-born U.S. citizen, admitted to rais-

ing money for al Qaeda through fraudulent loans, as well as performing other tasks at

the request of the terrorist organization between 2007 and 2008.

• Mohamed Mahmood Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte. Two New Jersey men,

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa (20), a native U.S. citizen, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte

(24), a naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic and convert to Islam, were

arrested in June at New York’s JFK Airport for conspiring to kill persons outside the

United States. The two were on their way to join al-Shabaab in Somalia.

• Barry Walter Bujol, Jr. Barry Walter Bujol, Jr. (29), a native U.S. citizen and convert

to Islam, was arrested as he attempted to leave the United States to join al Qaeda in

Yemen. He had been under investigation for two years and was in contact with an

undercover agent he believed to be an al Qaeda operative.

• Samir Khan. In June 2010, the Yemen-based affiliate of al Qaeda began publishing

Inspire, a slick, English-language online magazine devoted to recruiting Western youth

to violent jihad. The man behind the new publication was Samir Khan (24), a Saudi-

born naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to the United States with his parents when

he was seven years old. He began his own journey to violent jihad when he was 15. He

reportedly left the United States in late 2009, resurfacing in Yemen in 2010.

• Rockwood’s Hitlist. Paul Rockwood (35), a U.S. citizen who served in the U.S. Navy

and converted to Islam while living in Alaska, was convicted in July 2010 for lying

to federal authorities about drawing up a list of 15 targets for assassination; they were

targeted because, in his view, they offended Islam. He was also accused of research-

ing how to build the explosive devices that would be used in the killings. His wife,

Nadia Rockwood (36), who has dual UK-U.S. citizenship, was convicted of lying to

authorities.

• Zachary Chesser. Zachary Chesser (20), a native U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was

arrested for supporting a terrorist group in July as he attempted to board an airplane to

fly to Somalia and join al-Shabaab. Chesser had earlier threatened the creators of the

television show South Park for insulting Islam in one of its episodes.

• Shaker Masri. A U.S. citizen by birth, Shaker Masri (26) was arrested in August 2010,

allegedly just before he planned to depart for Afghanistan to join al Qaeda or Somalia

to join al-Shabaab.

• Somali Recruiting Case III. As part of a continuing investigation of recruiting and

funding for al Qaeda ally al-Shabaab, the U.S. Department of Justice announced four

indictments charging 14 persons with providing money, personnel, and services to the

terrorist organization. In Minnesota, 10 men were charged with terrorism offenses for

leaving the United States to join al-Shabaab: Ahmed Ali Omar (27), a legal permanent

resident; Khalid Mohamud Abshir (27); Zakaria Maruf (31), a legal permanent resident;

Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan (22), a legal permanent resident; Mustafa Ali Salat (20), a

legal permanent resident; Cabdulaahi Ahmed Faarax (33), a U.S. citizen; and Abdiweli

Yassin Isse (26). Three were new on the list and had been the subject of previous indict-

ments: Abdikadir Ali Abdi (19), a U.S. citizen; Abdisalan Hussein Ali (21), a U.S. citi-

zen; and Farah Mohamed Beledi (26). A separate indictment named Amina Farah Ali

(33) and Hawo Mohamed Hassan (63), both naturalized U.S. citizens, for fundraising

on behalf of al-Shabaab. A fourth indictment charged Omar Shafik Hammami (26),

a U.S. citizen from Alabama, and Jehad Sherwan Mostafa (28) of San Diego, Califor-

nia, with providing material support to al-Shabaab. (Hammami’s involvement is listed

in this chronology under the year 2007, when he first left the United States to join

al-Shabaab; Mostafa is listed separately in the next entry.)

• Jehad Serwan Mostafa. In August 2010, Jehad Serwan Mostafa (28), a native U.S.

citizen, was indicted for allegedly joining al-Shabaab in Somalia. He reportedly left

the United States in December 2005 and was with al-Shabaab between March 2008

and June 2009.

• Abdel Hameed Shehadeh. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh (21), a U.S.-born citizen of Pal-

estinian origin, was arrested in October for traveling to Pakistan to join the Taliban

or another group to wage jihad against U.S. forces. Denied entry to Pakistan, then

Jordan, Shehadeh returned to the United States and subsequently attempted to join

the U.S. Army. He allegedly hoped to deploy to Iraq, where he planned to desert and

join the insurgents. When that did not work out, he tried again to leave the country

to join the Taliban.

• Farooque Ahmed. Farooque Ahmed (34), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was

arrested in October for allegedly plotting to bomb Metro stations in Washington, D.C.

FBI undercover agents learned of Ahmed’s intentions by posing as al Qaeda operatives.

• Shabaab Support Network in San Diego. Saeed Moalin (33), a naturalized U.S. cit-

izen from Somalia, Mohamed Mohamed Mohamud (38), born in Somalia, and Issa

Doreh (54), a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, all residents of San Diego, were

arrested for allegedly providing material support to al-Shabaab. The investigation of

this network is continuing, and a fourth man from Southern California, Ahmed Nasir

Taalil Mohamud (35), was subsequently indicted.

• Al-Shabaab Fundraising II. In November, federal authorities arrested Mohamud

Abdi Yusuf (24), a St. Louis resident, and Abdi Mahdi Hussein (35) of Minneapolis,

both immigrants from Somalia. The two are accused of sending money to al-Shabaab

in Somalia. A third person, Duane Mohamed Diriye, believed to be in Africa, was also

indicted.

• Nima Ali Yusuf. Nima Ali Yusuf (24), a legal permanent resident originally from Soma-

lia, was arrested in November for allegedly providing material support to a terrorist

group. She was accused of attempting to recruit fighters and raise funds for al-Shabaab.

• Mohamed Osman Mohamud. Mohamed Osman Mohamud (19), a naturalized U.S.

citizen originally from Somalia, was arrested in December for attempting to detonate

what he believed to be a truck bomb at an outdoor Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony

in Portland, Oregon. He reportedly had wanted to carry out some act of violent jihad

since the age of 15. His bomb was, in fact, an inert device given to him by the FBI,

which set up the sting after it became aware of his extremism through a tip and subse-

quent monitoring of his correspondence on the Internet.

• Antonio Martinez. Antonio Martinez (21), also known as Muhaamed Hussain, a nat-

uralized U.S. citizen and convert to Islam, was arrested in December for allegedly plot-

ting to blow up the Armed Forces Career Center in Catonsville, Maryland. The car

bomb he used to carry out the attack was a fake device provided to him by the FBI,

which had been communicating with him for two months.

APPENDIX B: Research Materials

1302002992ICSRPaper_ATypologyofLoneWolves_Pantucci

12Sageman

Wk 6-3 Terrorism background psychology Sageman

20091007.Sageman.ConfrontingalQaeda

208551

9/11/01 Ten Years Later: Thoughts On The War On Terror

with one comment

9/11/11:

Recently, I found myself on NPR speaking about 9/11, ten years later and some of the experience has dulled to a point where I no longer feel like I have some sort of PTSD. However, in talking about it, I began to think about how things are going with the war on terror low these many years later. With the recent events of killing Osama Bin Laden, and the roll up of other key players (be they arrested or in many cases, killed by hellfire missiles shot from UAV’s)  I have to say that I am feeling somewhat optimistic about the war on terror.. At least from the perspective of breaking AQ’s back so to speak.

We have seen over the past few years particularly, a movement (AQ) that has been foundering because of more than a few factors;

  • The net is tightening around them, more countries are getting more agile at intelligence sharing
  • Their aegis of caliphate and jihad is being dulled by the Arab Spring
  • Their titular leader OBL is dead and their new leader is perceived as the old man who yells at you to get off the God Damn lawn by the foot soldiers
  • They are having recruiting trouble because it is harder to get to their ‘training’ countries. This is due to much more monitoring on borders
  • AQ as an organisation has been marginalised due to its own set of strict rules
  • AQ has, once again, been marginalised or contained. Its message is more diluted as many spin off (splinter) orgs have formed
  • The takfiri movement is failing, not too many takfir want to be shahid suicide bombers
  • New converts are not finding themselves similarly motivated to become shahid for the movement by wearing the vest
  • The online jihad has been foundering, they are not technically as adept as they would like to be and keep getting shut down
  • Due to being shut down online much of the time, they are not able to recruit and ingrain the “jihad” mindset as easily
  • Due to the jihad being online, the converts are not as controlled by management, and thus there is no re-enforcement of belief to make them act

So, in many ways, the war on terror has been effective in marginalising the AQ core, but, at the same time, new groups have popped up. Lone wolf attacks (radicalising online and acting) is the predominate way that AQ/AQAP have seen as the future of the Jihad. I have personally seen them grapple with not only the technology but also the propaganda war itself in their magazine “Inspire” They have been trying to figure out ways to propagandise, radicalise, and re-enforce the word of Jihad by keyboard as opposed to the Madrassa . This in particular is problematic for them as they are used to that madrassa method. By getting kids in the door at a young age, abusing them, and only teaching them the wrote recitation of the Koran in tandem with their particular spins on Jihad, had they created so many shahidi. It’s just not that simple online trying to reach out to more Western minds who have not been controlled in such a way.

Instead, what we have seen is an increasing number of mentally unstable individuals (Emerson Begolly, Malik Hassan, Richard Reid, etc) be drawn in by the propaganda online and then go on to commit “lone wolf” acts of terror. Frankly, these people are no more a real terrorist threat (these radicalised and mentally ill folks) than the average spree killer. However, since they hang their hat with the Jihad and AQ, then, they become more of a perceived threat to the masses.. Erroneously I think.

The Elephant With Its Trunk In Our Collective Coffee:

Reflecting on all of what I state above, I then find myself pondering the costs of those wins for us. Two wars ongoing for those 10 years, our nations economy failing rapidly from the outpouring of money into said wars (and of course all of the other malfeasance that happened with wall street, bankers, etc etc) that at present, just seem to have no end. Can we in fact do anything in Afghanistan substantively? Or, are we just the next country to fall into a morass and not heeded the history of the region as well as the immortal words of Vizzini in Princess Bride “never get involved in a land war in Asia”  So many have failed at trying to tame the region and all have fallen to a tribal society that has not changed that much in a thousand years. Add to this that we have just come off looking like the new brute occupying their lands, and we have the trifecta of imminent failure.

Meanwhile, at home, we have, over these ten years, traded our freedoms for perceived security. There are so many arguments to be made here, but, I have to say that there have been excesses and misuse of power. Our government has become ungovernable and radicalised into three parties, and we the people have little say any more because corporations are now “people” according to the court system (just look up the idea of the ‘super pac’ *see Steven Colbert for more) We have indeed traded security for privacy and the right to be a part of how we are governed by our own apathy.

Frankly, its rather scary. Of course all of the losses to privacy can be directly attributed to 9/11 and the land grab after it within the intelligence collective and government’s desire to outsource those same collection means as well as war-fighting capacities (Xe aka Blackwater ring a bell?) I’m afraid that much has been done in the name of liberty and freedom that we as a people might not like so much. So it is kept from us by over classification and secrecy. The panoptacon has been built around us all and, like the frog in the pot, we just don’t feel the heat as we are too happily playing with our new iPhone.

Are we really more secure from these enhanced rights the government has? Or is it that we have prosecuted the war in a much better way intelligence wise as well as boots on the ground to stop these guys in country? It seems to me, that back in the day the NSA could do all of this type of surveillance on other countries and it was all good. Now, they see everything and have the right to work in the US…

So just how many of these terrorist arrests were made in the US?

How many US jihadi terrorists were caught by the FBI due to the enhanced continental powers granted?

Am I just missing all those headlines? Because I am not remembering too many plots being stopped here. So, yes, we have traded privacy for a perceived security by allowing the government carte blanche… And no, we are not better off for it.

Of course now with the advent of Anonymous and LulzSec, we have a new kind of terrorism (albeit one that has not been uttered yet or legislated into existence) Just how long will it be before we see this happen? All of it proves though, that there is no fool proof way to insure security. We, as a people need to understand this and come back to our collective senses. Look at Europe, specifically look at England..

Do you want a camera on every corner? (almost there)

How about shotgun mikes? (almost there too)

The infrastructure is being built around you fellow frogs… Time to talk to your legislators about this if it concerns you.

Looking Ahead:

As I see it, the days of AQ are starting to wane and the days of the crazy lone wolves is just the same as it was before. All the attempts at radicalising have failed really to raise an army. I think we are winning the overall battle against Jihad… But.. We are losing the battle for our own country. Ask yourself this though; “Once AQ and the like are gone, just who will all these methods and technologies be turned toward? With no major enemies to watch, will it all be decommissioned? Somehow I doubt that.

For every time someone mentions how Facebook is so perverse about personal privacy, please take a step back and think about the government under which you governed. With all of the morass we find ourselves in, and how much we complain collectively about it being the governments fault, please ponder that said same government has the technologies available to do whatever they like and then mark it secret. Never to see the light of day.

I do hope the war on terror ends, but I shudder to think about what will happen after it does.

K.

 

Written by Krypt3ia

2011/09/06 at 20:16

Shamikh1.info: The New Den of Scum and Villainy

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Well, that didn’t take long did it. At least Evan got one thing right, they’d be back up soon. So, here is the skinny on the new site and the core server that they have stood up. The site is still not fully back online, but this stage of things allows one to get a lot of intel on the server makeup and who is operating/hosting it because they had a direct link back to the sql instance. The site is not fully operational yet, but they are setting it up rapidly as I surmised they would on the domain of shamikh1.info which was registered in May as the backup domain.

I have begun the work of getting all of the pertinent details on the address owners/ops in Indonesia so soon all of their details will be available to those who want them. However, just with the short bit of work I have done here, I pretty much think you can all get a grasp of who’s where and what’s up huh? Sure, the server is in Indonesia, and, well, they are rather tepid on the whole GWOT thing so nothing much may happen…

But..

You intelligence agencies out there looking for a leg up.. Well here it is… Enjoy.

Now, back to the events that brought us to today. The take down of the original site may have been only because someone got into the server and wiped it out as Evan suggests (without any proof as yet mind you) or, it may in fact be because the site was blocked at the domain level as I pointed out in my last post on this matter. Godaddy had suspended the domain and I am not sure if the mirrors on piradius were working before the alleged attack happened or not. At this point, it is anyone’s guess as to the attacks perpatraitors, methods, and final outcome until someone from the AQ camp speaks up on exactly what happened.

Meanwhile, the media will continue to spin on about MI6 hacking them or perhaps it was those mysterious “Brit” hackers that so many articles mentioned.

“Bollocks” As they say in England.

DATA:

Domain ID:D38010794-LRMS
Domain Name:SHAMIKH1.INFO
Created On:14-May-2011 00:22:30 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Jun-2011 07:43:57 UTC
Expiration Date:14-May-2012 00:22:30 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:eNom, Inc. (R126-LRMS)
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:fce7ae13f22aa29d
Registrant Name:WhoisGuard  Protected
Registrant Organization:WhoisGuard
Registrant Street1:11400 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 200
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Los Angeles
Registrant State/Province:CA
Registrant Postal Code:90064
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.6613102107
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:06b6ac7646b147ccb6aed6d1f0248d70.protect@whoisguard.com
Admin ID:fce7ae13f22aa29d
Admin Name:WhoisGuard  Protected
Admin Organization:WhoisGuard
Admin Street1:11400 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 200

Core Server:

Ip address: 180.235.150.135

Location: Indonesia


Persons Attached: Daru Kuncoro & Yogie Nareswara

Names of Admins: Yogie Nareswara & Daru Kuncoro

Email Contacts: ahmad@koneksikita.com yogie@arhdglobal.com

Nmap Scan Report:

Starting Nmap 5.21 ( http://nmap.org ) at 2011-07-02 07:39 EDT
Initiating Ping Scan at 07:39
Scanning 180.235.150.135 [2 ports]
Completed Ping Scan at 07:39, 0.32s elapsed (1 total hosts)
Initiating Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 07:39
Completed Parallel DNS resolution of 1 host. at 07:39, 0.53s elapsed
Initiating Connect Scan at 07:39
Scanning 180.235.150.135 [1000 ports]
Discovered open port 80/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 110/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 993/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 143/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 21/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 443/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 3306/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Discovered open port 995/tcp on 180.235.150.135
Completed Connect Scan at 07:39, 11.74s elapsed (1000 total ports)
Nmap scan report for 180.235.150.135
Host is up (0.30s latency).
Not shown: 958 filtered ports, 34 closed ports
PORT     STATE SERVICE
21/tcp   open  ftp
80/tcp   open  http
110/tcp  open  pop3
143/tcp  open  imap
443/tcp  open  https
993/tcp  open  imaps
995/tcp  open  pop3s
3306/tcp open  mysql

Tasty, they have a few ports open. Hey antisec skiddies, wanna play with some SQLi ?

Meh.

Site Contact Data:

Daru Kuncoro:

Yogie Nareswara:

Current State:

Guess they are still working on the server connections… I am sure as well, that soon they will have more stealth servers out there in Malaysia as well. So the mirroring will begin for the sql instance to do the push from. Lets see how long it is before this one is taken down shall we? Oh, and next time an attack happens, lets all get a lock on how it is happening as well as exactly what it is. I have had enough of the media hype with talking heads who have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to information warfare or network security.

More later.

K.

The Eternal Game of Whack-A-Mole Goes On: Was Al-Shamukh Hacked?

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The Eternal Game of Whack-A-Mole Goes On:

Al-Shamikh1, the Shamukh Al-Islam AQ site is down, and has been allegedly under attack since this weekend. It’s mirrors are down as well and according to the news media Here and Here citing Evan Kohlmann of Flashpoint Global. The problem I have with the stories that the media is ravening over now is either that Evan is not painting the full picture or the media, as usually, is not understanding what he is saying. As for my take on it, it’s a little of both really. Evan has been around for a long time working as a consultant on terrorism, but as far as I know, he is not a network security specialist.

Over the weekend I had heard and re-tweeted reports that Shamikh was under an attack of some kind and the site was intermittently unavailable. as I had a whiskey in hand and no motivation, I let it be and figured it was maybe Jester doing his usual thing. Then today I see the barrage of bad media accounts with headlines like;

British Hackers Take Down Al-Qaeda Websites

and

NBC News: Hacker attack cripples al-Qaida Web communications

*Facepalm*

None of the articles cites any clear evidence of who did what never mind what actually happened to the site! Upon investigation this morning after being contacted by someone in the UK press, I found the following salient point:

From: robtex.com The domain and NS pointers have been suspended by GoDaddy

The domain and the name servers have been suspended by Godaddy. This is why it is offline now. Perhaps it was DD0S’d for a while and the traffic was the final straw for Godaddy on this site. You see, this site has been on the Godaddy for some time and many have pointed this fact out before, to no avail.. Well, actually one might assume that the feds just wanted to know where it was and leave it be to monitor.. But, that’s a bit too subtle for the media.

Whois data for shamikh1.net

Either way, the site is down now because they cannot route to it via the domain. Backups of the site hosted on non domain named boxes are down and the core server may have been compromised. It’s all up in the air at the moment but the media is just trucking along with the story. It may in fact be that the server was core was pulled by the jihadi’s themselves because they have been real twitchy since the 2010 roll up of al-faloja.

In the case of Shamikh, I had seen in the past that this site had some security issues to begin with. The implementation of the phpbb was weak and there were ways to get into the board and collect data. In one case, they had even re-set passwords and one could get them from the site itself for those users as they had passed them in the clear in what they thought was a secure space. Others have been using these vulns for some time to audit what is going on in the boards and have in the past run operations that have kept the admin’s and the jihadi’s on edge. This is why today you see so many more discussion groups on computer security, but more so how to configure and secure phpbb today on sites like As-Ansar.

Distributed Sites:

“Al-Qaida’s online communications have been temporarily crippled, and it does not have a single trusted distribution channel available on the Internet,” said Evan Kohlmann, of Flashpoint Global Partners, which monitors the group’s communications.

This one line really just grinds my gears here. I am sorry Evan, but this site is not the only one out there that has this type of content and even though the core is down, the content lives on in other sites. The Jihadi’s have created redundancy in the number of sites, not just put all their terrorist eggs in one digital basket. All of the sites link to one another as fraternal organisations do (i.e. As-Ansar has much the same content as Shamikh1). Remember, this is an group performing insurgency who know the power of cells and this is no different online. An example of this is the site in question of Shamikh, which has had many sites online at different times. Some get pulled down as they have issues with the hosts removing them. Others still have stealth sites on compromised systems, or in cases like the boxes in Malaysia, hosted secretly with complicity on the part of someone in the network (see paradius net)

In the case of Shamikh1 the following sites are known to have hosted or, as in the case of shamikh1.info, was scheduled to be soon.

http://shamikh1.net

http://shamikh1.info

http://202.149.72.130/~shamikh/vb/

http://202.149.72.131/~shamikh/vb/

http://202.75.56.237/~shamikh/vb/

All of these systems are down at least content wise for Shamikh, the .info though is online and untouched but hosts no content as yet. It seems to me that it was still being staged to host the content or maybe was set to be a backup.

shamikh1.info whois data

This has been the SOP for the jihadi sites for some time. In case one site is hit, the rest are online to keep the content online. In this case though, it seems that the “sophisticated and coordinated attack” really just means that they hit the core server for Shamikh so the content is not getting to the satellite sites. Of course once again, there is no data to say how this attack was carried out and how massive it may have been. Like I said, lately the e-jihadi’s have been twitchy about security for a while now because they have been compromised in the past.

So, all of this reporting that it was a huge state run hack and was massive takedown is mostly media hype and, I am afraid, as you can see from the reporting, it all seems to be coming from Mr. Kohlmann. Who’s privately run consultancy is getting quite a bit of attention now.. Isn’t it?

Cupcake Recipies Instead of IED’s Do Not A Hack Make:

Another thing that is sticking in my craw is this whole linking this outage/hack to the “cupcake” incident with Inspire Magazine. These two things are NOT alike and the media needs to pay attention to the facts. Nor is there any evidence cited or even hinted at in the real world that MI6 or Five for that matter had anything to do with this. For all they know, it could have been Jester or someone with like technology that dos’d them and got them yanked offline by their host.

Let me set the record straight here. The MI6 operation on Inspire was a PSYOP. They poisoned the well (i.e. Al-Malahem’s media apparatus) by intercepting the AQ file and replacing it with their own. Just where this happened no one is sure. Was it on some desktop somewhere before being put out? Or, was it replaced with the edited file on the megashare?

No one has said.

This operation though served two purposes. First off, it managed to stop AQ from getting the IED manual out to everyone, but secondly, and more importantly, it make AQ question its communications security. This was even more important and we can see the effects of that today in posts on the boards about security.

They are worried.

Oh dear media, pay attention and get the story straight. While the Cupcake operation had style and was claimed by MI6, this current claimed attack on Shamikh has no attribution by anyone and there is no proof that I have seen to say that anyone did anything… Save that their site is down.

Whodunnit:

This all leaves me wondering just who may have attacked Shamikh and why. Given that the sites are often taken down only to show up elsewhere makes me question why it was done at all. It would be simpler to monitor the site and capture data than to send them all scurrying into the woods would it not? This was my primary issue with the Jester’s campaign, it did no good. Even if you are driving them off the sites, they will only move toward less visible ones and use more covert means of communication. Why not let them feel fat, dumb, and happy while we watch their every move?

All I can think of, if this was state sanctioned, was that the Shamikh site was about to drop some content that someone did not want out there so they took the network down. If it wasn’t state sanctioned and some hacker or hackers decided to mess with them they did it for their own reasons. Either way, the sites got taken down..

But, they will be back again… Let the great game of whack a mole begin!

K.

IMPORTANT SECURITY TIPS: Security Tips for Jihobbyists At Majahden

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Security Tips for Majahden2 Users and Jihobbyists

Important Security Tips from Majahden:

The boys at Majahden have been learning lately about how psyops, hacking, disinformation, and being pwn3d works. I suppose since Osama went to live in a pineapple under the sea, they have been taking stock of just how much information they are leaking on the boards out there on the internets. There have been a spate of timely deaths in the AQ camp of late as well as a few arrests, but really, the intelligence coup of finding OBL and whacking him has all the jihobbyists worried that they will be next.

Of course they should be worried, but not only because OBL was popped. You see, we have been inside their shit for some time now and they just did not know it I guess. I have written in the past about sites that I have been poking at and digging through and I know in the case of Al-faloja (may it rest un-peacefully) I was able to get quite a bit of data from them. Since Al-Faloja fell down and went boom, there have been many site re-vamps by many a phpBB admin but they still seem to be on the whole, lacking the skills to really secure their shit.

Oopsies!

So, from their sooper sekret squirrel lair we have the following text from the above screen shot on majahden entitled “Important Security Tips” From this post I can say that they have been learning though. The tips are good and if followed it will make it just a teensy bit harder to track them and eventually have them picked up. Here are some good ones:

  • Trust no one: See a new member asking all kinds of questions about going to jihad? Be wary of them they may be spies
  • Use internet cafe’s to log in and post to the boards because they can track your IP address
  • DO NOT use just one internet cafe! Move around and make sure that you go outside your usual area (where you live)
  • Use a PROXY at the cafe!
  • Be careful though at the cafe because they are on the lookout for swarthy types like us!
  • NEVER give out your real information to ANY forum! (i.e. Bday, phone, etc)
  • Beware of files published to the forums! They could be malware!
  • Beware of popup installs like Java on the boards, they are not proper and likely a means to compromise you!
  • Beware people asking you to email them from the forum (use the message program on the board)
  • DO NOT RE-USE PASSWORDS!
  • Be careful what information (personal) you put on the site
  • Be careful about posting anecdotes about seeing this or that imam speak (places you in a place and a time)

AND Finally, in the FUNNIEST note of the list;

  • This is not a dating site! You want to make friends do that separately from the jihadi forums.

*snort*

In all, these warnings are good solid rules of the road for anyone going anywhere on the internet never mind on a jihadi board being audited by the likes of moi. Just from a privacy standpoint these types of suggestions are valid as well and should be the standard for anyone not wanting their identity stolen or their stuff hacked easily. This however, is pretty new to all of these guys and are the rudiments of SECOPS for them. Up til now, they have been not following any of these precepts, and to have to say this is not a dating site? Well, that kinda says it all to me hehe.

Meanwhile another tasty tidbit came up from the same site and this one is a little more interesting. The above screen cap is for a posting called “Deceptive methods to extract information” and it covers primarily the idea of snitches being placed in cells at camps to elicit information from jihadi’s. Now, this is nothing new to anyone who has had a diet of movies or TV here in the US, but perhaps it is a new one for these guys. Informants in the form of turncoat prisoners or actual agents from the likes of the CIA etc, have been standard operations to get information without the enemy knowing it.

This post is written by someone though who has had first hand experience with being detained. They go on to describe very specific scenarios and methods to evade giving up information to the “birds” as they are calling them.  (I think they mean stool pigeons) The writer gives suggestions on how to detect the turncoats and or to deal with the interrogators methods in trying to cajole information from them. All in all, this is an interesting read that comes across as someone who has had direct experience and understands PSYOPS.

The Take Away:

These posts and others within the site have me thinking that they are starting to become a bit more sophisticated in their efforts online. There are numerous tutorials now on chaining Tor and proxy-ing as well as the use of crypto and other security oriented programs. TNT_ON has been busy posting more tutorials as well as lauding Younis Tsouli (aka irhabi007, now in jail) as the progenitor of the jihadi hacking scene. All I can really say is that it is maturing and we need to step up our efforts with regard to them.

With the new invigoration within the cyber-jihadi community since OBL’s great pineapple adventure, they have taken up the gauntlet not only to hack but to wage a cyber-propaganda campaign like never before. Presently, the jihadi’s on Majahden and other sites have been spinning up and creating numerous Facebook sites that conform to standards that will fly under the FB radar (FB has been pulling sites down just about as fast as they could put them up) this has become the new “stealth jihad” They are making the effort now to have innocent front pages that lead to many other more hidden pages containing hardcore jihadi content. This is something that was being espoused last year on the boards and is now coming into acceptance as the main modus operandi. This way they can have their content and not get it 0wned or taken down by the likes of Facebook or Blogspot.

Since the advent of the LulzSec crew, it just seems that we all have been focused elsewhere.. Time to wake up and go back to working these fools. I say it is time to start a program of 0day infected dox that will be downloaded from all those sharing sites that these guys love. Remember the whole cupcake thing with Inspire? I say we do it en masse for as many sites as we can. Added to this, we should also be using many more approaches such as PSYOPS, Disinformation, and all out penetration of their servers… No matter where they sit.

But that’s just me… I also think that perhaps the NSA might have that already covered… One wonders…

At the very least, we should keep an eye on these sites.. If not for the lulz, then for taking them down once and for all.

K.

Lulz, Jester, and Counterintelligence On The Internet

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Escalation:

I once wrote a blog post about ‘escalation’ and it seems that my fears are coming true as the Lulz Boat keeps making waves across the Internet. Between Lulzsec, Jester, Anonymous, and now God knows who else, we are seeing a re-birth of the 90’s anarchy hacking. However, since so much has changed network wise since the 90’s its been amplified a thousand fold. What has spun out of all the hacking (hactivism, vigilantism, whatever you want to call it) is that we are seeing just how a counter-intelligence operation is carried out. Th3j35t3r and his friends at Web-Ninjas’s are carrying out this counter-intelligence program and posting their findings on Lulzsecexposed as well as on th3j35t3rs own site on word-press.

To date, their efforts have not seemed to have either slowed Lulzsec’s antics, nor generated any federal arrests of anyone involved. However, I think it important to note the methods being used here to attempt to put faces to names in the lulz crew.

The LulzSec Problem:

The problem with trying to track lulzsec members is primarily the technologies that they are using prevent getting a real idea of where and who they are. By using VPN technologies, proxies, and compromised systems in the wild, they have been able to keep their true identities from being exposed in a more meaningful way other than screen names. Due to the problems of digital attribution, the governments of the world cannot quite get their hands around who these people are nor, would they be able to prove such in a court of law at the present time without solid digital forensics on the end users machines.

In the case of Lulzsec and Anonymous, they are not using just one system but many types of systems to protect their anonymity. Thus, with the right tools and obfuscation, they feel impervious to attack from anyone, be they government, law enforcement, or the likes of Th3j35t3r. Tactically, they have the advantage in many ways and it would take one of two types of attacks, if not both simultaneously, to take the Lulzsec and Anonymous core group down. The attacks I mention are these:

1) A direct attack on their IRC servers that host the secret C&C channels

2) Insertion of ‘agent provocateurs’ into the C&C of Lulzsec and Anonymous (as recently alluded to with the FBI stat that one in 4 hackers are CI’s recently)

I actually would suggest that both avenues of attack would have the best effect along with a healthy program of disinformation and PSYOPS to keep the adversary unbalanced and malleable. Which leads me to my next section.. The methods of attack.

Counter-Intelligence:

An overall category, Counter-Intelligence ranges all of the afore-mentioned types of attacks. In the case of Lulzsec, anyone could be a member within the community that encompasses info-sec or anonymous. Hell, Jester could actually know some of these people in real life just as well as you the reader might and never know it if the member never talks about it. I imagine it’s kind of like Fight Club;

The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. #2 – The second rule of Fight Club is, you DO NOT talk about Fight Club. 

If anyone talks, they could end up in some serious shit and in this case, disappeared pretty quickly if the governments in question get their hands on them. This is especially true now that they have hit the FBI and CIA with their attacks and derision… But I digress. The key here is that because no one knows who is who or is talking about it, it is very analogous to the idea of a mole hunt or counter intelligence operations that seek to locate spies within the community (such as within the CIA) There are whole divisions in the CIA and FBI as well as other places that are solely devoted to this type of war of attrition.

I believe that it is a counter-intelligence operation that will win the day though in the battle against Lulzsec or any other like minded adversary. Winning that battle will take the following types of sub operations as well.

PSYOPS & Disinformation:

PSYOPS and Disinformation work together to unbalance the adversary as well as spin the masses toward compliance or action. In the case of LulzSec, this type of activity is already ongoing with their own ‘Manifesto‘ and other publicity that they have put out. They want to spin opinion and generate adoration as well as fear, both of these are in evidence within the media cycle and the public’s perception of who and what they are. Where I am seeing both types of activity on Lulzsec’s part, I can also see within the actions of jester and the Web Ninja’s as well.

On the part of LulzSec, the following psychological operations and disinformation campaigns can be seen:

  • For each alleged ‘outing’ of a member, they make claims that these are not core members of their group (note, they do not make claim to the anonymous model of headless operations) such outed persons who can be connected to them are merely underlings in open IRC channels
  • Affecting accents and 4chan speak to attempt to hide their real patterns of writing and mannerisms
  • A claim to having battles with 4chan and /b/ as well as Anonymous while they seem much more aligned to them (distancing)
  • The use of agent provocateurs against Jester within his own coterie of followers and open IRC channel
  • The use of flash mobs (abuse) within Jester’s open IRC channel
  • Leveraging the fact that they are anonymous (in concept) and due to the technology today, virtually untouchable

On the part of Jester we have the following operational tactics used so far:

  • The outing of individuals believed to be core members of the group (no matter if correct, will prompt a reaction from Lulzsec that may be telling)
  • The use of agent provocateurs to place disinformation as well as gather intel on the adversary (Lulzsec) which can be seen in leaked IRC chat transcripts
  • The creation of analogous groups such as the Web Ninja’s to work against LulzSec
  • Leveraging the fact that he is just as anonymous (in concept) as they are and due to the technology today, virtually untouchable

It seems from both sides of the battle, that these types of actions are being used to mislead and gain the edge over the other. In the case of Jester, I am pretty sure that this is an overt thing. While, on the other hand, with Lulzsec, I see it as a reactionary set of measures to attempt to keep themselves from being exposed as to who and where they are. As this continues, I am willing to hazard that even more players are playing a part in this war, quietly, and those would be the government operatives looking for an in to take the Lulz down. Of course, the government has been pretty quiet about Lulzsec haven’t they? One wonders just what they are up to.. If anything at all.

Of course, the NSA may just be the dark horse here… And the Lulz won’t know what hit them.

Then it will be over.

Development of Sources:

One of the more tradecraft oriented things that must be going on is the use of sources or getting assets into positions to be inside the Lulz Boat. I am sure that there are players out there sidling up to the right users on the IRC boards in an attempt to get into the inner circle of LulzSec as well as Anonymous. These assets are likely to be working for the government but I can also see someone like Jester using the same tactic, if not posing himself as the asset. Due to the nature of the problems of tracking these people, this is the best way to get close to the Lulz and to gather raw intelligence on them. After all, even if not fully trusted, an asset can gather important data on the actions of the Lulz and be there when they make a crucial mistake.

The other side of that coin may be people who have been outed and were in fact affiliated with the Lulz. This is where the FBI has a forte in turning hackers into informants by allowing them to work for them instead of just being put in a hole somewhere. It has happened in the past (carders for example) and likely is the case in the Lulz affair. After all, some have been ‘vanned’ already in Anonymous circles and I have yet to hear about any real solid court cases being filed.. So.. One tends to think that there is a bit of cooperation going on with those who have been popped already for being suspected ‘anons’

In the case of the Lulz, we have yet to see or hear of anyone being taken into custody for being afiliated with the Lulz.. But, the day is young especially of late.

Habits Will Be Their Downfall:

Overall, I would say from what I have seen in IRC and in other data located out there on key user names, that human nature and habits will be the downfall of the Lulz. People have habits and these can be leveraged to attack them. No one is perfect and none of these people to my knowledge have been trained to avoid the pitfalls of habit that a trained operative would. Insofar as the Jester seems to have hit the mark in a few cases is telling that people are leaking data. Either the Lulz themselves have been careless (as they harp on password re-use, I harp on user name re-use) or they have indeed  been infiltrated by assets of the enemy, or, have decided to go down another less dangerous path in hopes of not being prosecuted.

Habitual behaviour too is not only action, but mannerisms, thought processes, and enunciation of motives. Just as coders tend to code in specific ways that can be used as ‘digital DNA’ so too can writing patterns, speech, etc even when attempted to be clothed in 4chan speak. As well, the habits of human nature to be trusting will too be their downfall. After all, unless this is a one person operation, there are many links in the chain that could and will be exploited. As people seem to be dropping off of the Lulz Boat (per Jester’s data) they will need new blood to keep the Lulz going, and that means that they will have to recruit, vet, and eventually trust someone…

And that is where the counter-intelligence operation will seal the deal… The phrase “Trust No One” just cannot be a reality in any operation. This is why they sometimes fail, because you trust the wrong person.

Over Reliance On Technology:

In the meantime, the Lulz seem to be relying quite a bit on technologies that are rapidly becoming susceptible to attacks by those who want to capture or stop them. The use of Anonymous proxies like Tor, while effective now, are also compromise-able from a few different perspectives. The technology may be solid, but the pressures legally on those who run them may in fact lead to compromise. Just as any of these avenues of anonymization that are out there could in fact be just honey-pots to capture data. A case in point would be Tor, which was a Navy project to begin with and anyone who has set up an exit node, can in fact sniff the traffic for data that may be helpful in getting a lock on a user.

Additionally, any other means of technology like cloud services that are hosting their data or facilitating anything the Lulz do, could potentially be compromised if the right people are involved *cough NSA cough* that have the latitude to do what they like. Given today’s surprising numbers of laws being passed that erode all of our rights to privacy, I should think that the days are numbered for the Lulz on the technical playground as the boys at Ft. Meade start getting their orders to lock and load.

Never trust so much in technologies that YOU do not run solely yourself.. Remember the government can make any company that MITM attacker and YOU the attacked.

The End:

In the end, I think that the Lulz have pointed out that ‘Elephant with its trunk in out collective coffee” but at what price? Will this change the paradigm and make the government care about security in a more cogent way? No. Instead they will come up with tougher laws and more ways to invade privacy by shortcutting the process. Sure, shit is out there and it is vulnerable, but you know what? It always will be. If it isn’t some very low hanging fruit like SQLi then it will be 0day. There will always be a way in. That is just the nature of things and the Lulz will have shifted paradigm.. Because truly, the Lulz will be on LulzSec, emotionally charged and sorry for their actions… While sitting in jail.

K.

*EDIT* Oh and one more thing to add here as an afterthought. I may remind you all that as the laws are changing and the Patriot Act has been re-signed. The Lulz, having upped the ante, can easily be considered ‘Domestic Terrorists” This would place them in even a more precarious place because then, the legal gloves come off….

One man’s Domestic Terrorist is another man’s “Enemy Combatant”

Al Qaeda: The Case of A More Diffuse and Autonomous Organisation

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Succession:

Speculation on the successor to OBL has been rife within the news-o-sphere and I too have waded in and made my case for who I think will be next. I have however, come to some more conclusions since I wrote my post on succession post Osama. My current thinking is still aligned with my post from before, that Al-Awlaki will be the prominent figure in the AQ presence world wide. Where I would like to refine the statement is that I believe while Al-Awlaki will be the public face of AQ/AQAP/Jihad he may not be the operational leader. At least, not as one might think.

I think that AQ (The Base) has become such a disparate organisation, that there really are leaders plural with a figurehead (aka OBL before his demise) It seems from the intelligence drips and drabs coming out in the news, that OBL was in fact part of the plotting at least aspiration-ally, of projects up until he got the face full of lead. This is not to say that any of the plans that he laid out actually made it to operational cells out in the world. Nor had OBL been on the media very much in the last years to give anyone ideas. So, who is coming up with the plans that are being tried out? Who is actuating plots? AQAP has.

The reason that AQAP has been more active is that they are in the country of Yemen where they have a base of support and a fledgling government that poses no real threat. Since AQAP has a bit of a free hand there and a younger crew of jihadi’s headed by several Americans, they seem to me, to be the new jihadi zeitgeist. These are some of the reasons that I feel Al-Awlaki, who is charismatic and liked, would be a more logical choice to be the inspirational head of the global jihad, which happens to be primarily aimed at America. Who better to use as the face of this fight than a former citizen refuting the way of life in America and the West? Who better to reach out to those lone wolves in the states and radicalise them to the point of action?

The problem though on trying to lead AQ now is that the GWOT has indeed made it harder for there to be structured networks. As evidenced by the killing of OBL, the jihadists have learned and have been learning over the years of strikes, that to have a ‘network’ that has clear channels of command and control leads to their being picked off one at a time with Hellfire missiles shot from reapers. It was the physical act of meeting with as well as making calls to OBL by his couriers, that lead to his demise. It is this fact that I think AQ will take to heart and collectively try to leverage not only the internet even more, but also create a more splintered organisational structure on purpose. The franchise model +1 will be the modus operandi of the day because they now fear to communicate a little bit more since we took out Osama.

It is this franchise idea with small autonomous cells that are to be inspired to action, even to the point of ‘Lone Wolf” single cell actors, that will be the new GWOT’s target. Thus, going back to the idea of whoever would ‘lead’ AQ, would have to be like OBL in the area of charisma, affability, piety, and leading by example… And that would not be Ayman Zawahiri, nor I think some of the other operators mentioned in the news and in papers I have seen come across my screen on the subject. I think it would make more sense that the operators stay in the shadows to lead and create operations. Ayman is not liked, pedantic, and generally not someone that would be universally followed by the jihadi masses.

This too I think, is why the IS has been immediately attempting to step up attacks on Yemen and Anwar because they too feel that he is a likely choice for taking up where OBL left off. If not officially, at least by proxy of AQAP being the new force in Jihad, the one group who has acted on grander plans like the old AQ did. Anwar I think, is about to replace OBL on the FBI’s wanted list slot…

Unless they actually hit him with one of those missiles.

Autonomous Cells:

Since the GWOT started and now the JSOC and the Kill/Capture program, AQ has been learning that to fight the battle they need to pivot the attacks. Just as hackers learned that it was best to use internal attacks by tricking people into clicking links in emails (phising) so too have the jiahdis in this battle space. Thus we have the idea of lone wolves and small cells of one to three members within them. The smaller the cell, and the more autonomous, the higher likelihood that they will be able to carry off a mission.

By leveraging the Internet, the propaganda machine that GIMF started, has been replaced by Al-Malahem and AQAP’s Inspire magazine. This trend is somewhat scary in many ways as the lone wolves out there may have some communications with AQ central (AQAP) but they likely will not be many. Instead, as data has shown us, the lone wolves out there so far (Nidal Hassan, Emerson Begolly, and others) radicalised by watching Youtube videos, chatting online with Paltalk, and reading jihadist writings on internet php boards. Rarely have these people had direct contact with the main players in AQ, though, Hassan did in fact email with Al-Awlaki.

Over all, I think that the decentralising of AQ will continue from the GWOT thus causing more splinter groups to pop up, see the model that AQAP has put together, and will emulate it. They will be harder to stamp out and they will be more of a percieved threat because they could be just about anyone. Irhabi 007 was a single prolific propagandist who worked out of his parents house in the UK. All he needed was the internet and some hacking skills and he was able to create a new paradigm of online jihad. Imagine now all of the next gen kids who are just as computer literate and just as moved to radical thought.

Jihad GEN 3:

Which brings me to the next generation of Jihad. Or should I say the next few generations of it? In watching the trending I have seen more and more younger recruits online and in jihadist videos. It has always been known that the Jihad starts at the Madrassa, but, it seems now that not only are the boys being trained from a young age, but so too the muslima. With the advent of the Chechen “Black Widows” and some of the rules being created by shura counsels, the girls too are now being trained from a young age to become shahid.

In the West though, the rationalisation process is more led by what media the jihadi/takfiri/kuffr has been able to align with. Perhaps they are going to mosque and getting some of the content in some cases, but mostly, it comes from the net. Just how many of these people are muslims from raising is unclear. Just as is how many come to Islam and then radicalise at some point as well. The one constant though in my mind is that they are likely mentally unbalanced or seeking attention in some way that is core to their being.

What form the next generation will take is still unclear. Perhaps the pivot toward trying to get Western recruits to become shahid will ultimately fail on the large scale. Though, I do expect there to be more unbalanced individuals attempting to carry out small attacks as mandated by AQ/AQAP for the cause. NO matter how small the explosion or the number of people killed, they will have fulfilled the mandate of a thousand cuts set out by OBL.

Chatter:

Currently, the chatter on the internet has started to amp up since the death of OBL. After AQ put out its announcement that he was martyred, the boards began to fill with prayers and threats. None of the threats have been credible but, we have seen a potential spike in action with at least one person attempting to get into the cockpit of a plane in flight last week. All of this chatter online and the reverberations from it, are likely to set in motion GEN3 and GEN2 actors within the AQ universe. It is time to keep our eyes open on the operations in play.

Talk of WMD’s and other key words have been seen on the boards and I fully expect that this will spin up even further as time goes by within the next few months toward September.

Time will tell.

K

Written by Krypt3ia

2011/05/12 at 18:40

The Post Bin-Laden World

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Well, it finally happened. OBL is ostensibly dead, though we have no real proof of that for the masses to see, but we are being told as much and that there have been DNA matches made. As you are all being barraged with I am sure, the salient points of the operation are these:

  • OBL was not in the kush, but instead in a populated area situated about an hour outside of Islamabad Pakistan
  • The compound was built in 2005 and has been under surveillance for some time
  • The compound was located in an area that was off limits to the reapers and other drones, thus they thought they were secure
  • The compound was about half a mile away from the Pakistani military version of West Point
  • The courier that OBL trusted most was the one who led us to him. He was in turn alleged to have been outed by KSM in Gitmo under “interrogation” as well as others in CIA ghost sites
  • Once the CIA had the pseudonym it took about two years to actually get his real name and then to locate him
  • Once we had a lock on enough data to place OBL there, the go code was given to neutralise OBL (he was not to be captured)
  • SEAL Team SIX confiscated more than 3 computers from the premises and I am sure those have been sent already to the NSA for decrypt/forensics
  • OBL’s body and any photos of it have been deep six’d so as not to give the jihadi’s anything to work with for Nasheeds and other propaganda
  • It was old fashioned intelligence work and a SPECOPS team that eventually got him… Not just fancy drones and technology

All in all, Sunday was a good day for SPECOPS, the CIA, and the U.S. So, what does this mean though for the GWOT and for all of us now?

AQ’s Response:

So far, I have seen very little chatter on the jihadi boards whatsoever. In fact, it has been downright quiet out there. I think there is a mix of disbelief and a bit of fear out there that is keeping them quiet. Just as there has been no body provided or photo’s thereof, they all must be waiting on an announcement from AQ as to the loss. However, I don’t expect that announcement to be soon. I am sure Ayman has been scuttled off somewhere ‘safe’ and the rest of the thought leadership (what’s left that is) is wondering just where to go from here.

Much of the inactivity on the part of AQ also likely is due to their loss of computers that likely held A LOT of data that were taken by the SEAL’s at exfiltration. I would assume that much of what was left of their internal network has been compromised by this loss and when the systems are cracked and examined, there will be more raids coming. So, they all are likely bugging out, changing identities if possible and burning the rest of the network to prevent blowback.

Frankly, this is a real death blow to AQ itself no matter how autonomous the network cells have become. Though, OBL had been less the public face of things for some time with Ayman taking up the face roll. Time will tell just what happens to the AQ zeitgeist in its original form, but I think I already know what has happened, and it has been going on for some time…

In the end, I don’t expect a real response from AQ proper and if anything, I expect a feeble one from Ayman in a few days. Remember, Ayman is not well liked within many jihadi circles, so the succession of AQ is likely to have Ayman try, but I think in the end fail to be the new OBL.

AQAP and Anwar al-Awlaki the new thought leaders:

Meanwhile, I believe this is the new AQ. AQAP has been developing a base that includes the whole Inspire Magazine machine. Anwar Al-Awlaki has been the titular head of jihadi thought for some time now, but with the demise of OBL and AQ proper, he will be the lightning rod I suspect. I think also that we will be hearing from him very soon and with that audio, no doubt released by Al-Malahem, he will take the spot that OBL and Ayman did. Whether that will be at the behest or acquiescence of Ayman or not I cannot be sure.

Awlaki is frankly, the charismatic Americanized version of OBL that will be able to and has been, moving the western takfiri’s to jihad with his fiery speeches. With his team of younger, hipper, and technically savvy, he will have a better chance of activating the youth movements and gaining the respect of the older set.

AQ Attacks:

I frankly do not see any major attacks coming from AQ proper in the near future that would rival 9/11. However, I do see the potential for some attacks in Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iraq from operators using shahid attacks. I do believe though, that they will be working on larger scale attacks as they are patient and have a real desire now to avenge OBL.

Time will tell on this, but I do not think that operationally, AQ is in a position to really do anything of merit at this time. This is specifically so because OBL’s computers and data have been captured and as I said before, the networks are likely broken.

AQAP Attacks:

AQAP though, is an entity unto itself and I can see them putting together another parcel bomb plot pretty quickly. The last plot (the one with the toner cartridges) was put together in short order and had a very low cost, so I think if anyone, AQAP has a better chance of actuating a plan and carrying it off.

Of course, they may not succeed just like the last time. In some ways though, we got lucky on that one as the Saud’s got intel that they shared foiling the plot.

Lone Wolves:

This is the one I think most viable and worry about. The disparate crazy loners who have self radicalized to jihad are the ones likely to do something bonkers. These guys may not have the training, may not have the infrastructure, but, they make up for it all in sheer whack nutty-ness.

The one thing about this is that I suspect that these folks will be the ones here in the states. So soft targets will be a premium (malls, games, etc)

Moving Forward:

The next week is going to be interesting. As time goes on, and the AQ networks begin to settle, then I am sure we will see some response from them. Meanwhile, I will continue to monitor the boards and see what’s what.

I do though want to recommend that you all out there keep your wits about you as you are out and about in soft targets like malls, games, and other gathering places. If anything, its that lone wolf actor who may try something and those would be targets they would choose for maximum effect.

More when I have it.

K

From John Yoo and Torture to Warrantless Searches of Papers and Effects: Welcome To The Panopticon

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“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Recently, a story has come up in the news concerning certain police departments (Michigan to be precise) have been taking more or less “forensic” images of people’s cell phones and other PDA devices when they have them stopped for traffic violations. Since the reports went live, the Michigan PD has sent out a rebuttal saying that they are in fact asking the citizen if they can scan their data. I say, whether or not they actively are doing it or not, they have the ability to do so per the courts since the loosening of the laws on search and seizure in places like California and Michigan where electronic media is concerned. The net effect is that our due process rights are being eroded in an ever rapid pace.

From Dailytech.com

I. Police Seize Citizens’ Smartphones

In January 2011, California’s Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that police could conduct warrantless inspections of suspects’ cell phones.  According to the majority decision, when a person is taken into police custody, they lose privacy rights to anything they’re carrying on them.

The ruling describes, “this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee’s body … but also to open and examine what they find.”

In a dissenting ruling, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar stated, “[The ruling allows police] to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or hand-held computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee’s person.”

But California was not alone.  Michigan State Police officers have been using a device called Cellebrite UFED Physical Pro for the last couple years.  The device scrapes off everything stored on the phone — GPS geotag data, media (pictures, videos, music, etc.), text messages, emails, call history, and more.

Michigan State Police have been reportedly regularly been scraping the phones of people they pull over.

In neighboring Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court has ruled that while such searches are generally illegal, their evidence can become admissible in court if the police demonstrate an exigency (a press need) for the information.

Essentially this ruling offers support for such searches as it indicates that they can give solid evidence and ostensibly offers no repercussions to law enforcement officials conducting the officially “illegal” procedure.

So far the only state to have a high profile ruling against the practice was Ohio.  The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled that warrant-less smart phone searching violated suspects’ rights.  The requested the U.S. Supreme Court review the issue, but the request was denied.

II. What Does the Constitution Say?

The United States Constitution ostensibly is the most important government document in the U.S.  It guarantees essential rights to the citizens of the U.S.

Some of those rights are specified in the Fourth Amendment, part of the original Bill of Rights.  It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Constitution explicitly states that effects of a person cannot be unreasonably seized without a warrant.

Of course courts must play the vital role of defining what a “reasonable” search is.  But by extending the limits of searches to deem nearly all searches “reasonable”, no matter how tenuous the connection to a suspects detainment, this and several other decisions have created an erosion of the protections in the amendment.

Essentially what court rulings in California, Michigan, and Wisconsin indicate is that the courts believe the Constitution is no longer valid, or that certain Constitutional freedoms can be specially selected for elimination.

The law and our losing the path :

The legal battle over the terms here has come down to the nature of papers and effects where they regard digital media as I understand it. I sat in on the EFF talk at Shmoocon where this very topic was brought up. It seems, that the gray areas of just what is a laptop or a phone as opposed to a “cabinet or desk” is a key factor in how some interpret the legalities of searching someone’s hard drive or phone. In my opinion, they are the same thing. A laptop is a case in which my data is stored, just like a desk or a room, which, you MUST get a warrant to search.

But, that’s just me I guess.

Personally, as the title of this post alludes, I believe that all of this started as soon as John Yoo and the Bush administration began to twist the laws concerning not only torture, but moreover, the use of warrant-less wiretaps. Post 9/11 the US went mad for tapping of phones/data at the trunk level in such instances like the one in the MAE West where they put in the NARUS STA6400. This was the biggie for me because that system hoovers ALL of the traffic, there is no selectivity over it at all. Sure the STA6400 can sift the data, but it needs ALL of the data in order to sift and data-mine. Who’s to say what data becomes important other than those who are running the compartmentalised program that has to report nothing to anyone because it is too secret.

What allowed for all of this to happen and then for the over-reaching to continue was 9/11 itself. Having been in NYC at the towers just before the attacks and working there just after in the hole, I know how many felt after it all went down. We here in the US had only had a handful of terrorist attacks within our borders and those were nothing in comparison to what took place on that day.

We all felt vulnerable and wanted the government to take care of us. We wanted vengeance, and we wanted a take charge guy.

Unfortunately that “guy” was GW Bush and his posse of cowboys who then began to run rough shod over the constitution and other documents like the Geneva conventions. It was from this need to be protected that the American people just went along with the things they knew about, as well as a healthy dose of over classification by the Bush administration that kept us in the dark as to what they really were doing. It was only later, toward the end of the second term that the full scope of abuses were coming out, and yet, the American populace really did nothing. Sure, we elected Obama who made promises to end the nightmare of abuse… But.. He hasn’t has he?

So, here we are in 2011. Ten years post 9/11, and we are finding our rights being eroded by legal positions and decisions that remove the most basic and cherished rights to reasonable searches slipping away.

Who’s to blame?

Us.

We the people have failed to keep in check the actions of the government and in some cases the courts because we have taken our collective hand off the tiller steering this country. Perhaps we really have no hand on that tiller to start simply because we have created a beast that is too big to control or have any sway over. By just looking at the state of affairs today within the political arena, one has to admit that its becoming more and more akin to what it used to be back in the days of Boss Tweed than anything looking like the era of J.F.K.

Simply put, without the people standing up and calling a foul on these types of erosions to liberty, then we have nothing to complain about when the liberties are taken away. On that list is the rights granted to us all by the fourth amendment. The tough thing now though is that where once your personal belongings were either in your house or on your person. Now, those “papers and effects” live digitally not only on your device that you have on you, but also may exist “in the cloud” as well. A cloud that you “use” and is not “owned” by you.

So sure, a cop could ask you if they can look at your phone data. Do they have to say that they are taking an “alleged” forensic image? Perhaps not, but, the thing about the whole Michigan PD thing is that independent reports have shown that they were not asking, they were just taking images when they felt they wanted to, and this is where they run afoul of due process. As far as I am concerned, a file on a phone that is not on the screen as a cop looks at it while it sits in front of him in plain view, is NOT a document that he should just have the right to fish for without a warrant.

Sorry cops… It’s a country of laws, no matter how you try to spin them so you can cut corners.

On the other hand, I know how hard it must be for the police forces of the world to do their jobs now in a digital world. Especially one that so few really understand and likely fear. These magic boxes called phones and computers now hold data that could easily make a case for crimes, but, you just can’t take them and rummage through them just like anything else where due process is concerned. What’s more, I know for a fact that unless you are a forensic investigator, AND you have a decent tool, YOU WILL MISS DATA. Which will lead potentially to acquittal because you did not follow processes such as chain of custody in E-Discovery.

For some though, I am sure it’s just about cutting a corner to make a collar… And that is not how the law is supposed to work.

Our complicity in our own privacy erosion:

Meanwhile, in the last few days another spate of news articles warned about how the iOS and Android systems were collecting data on our movements and details. This particular story is not new if you have been paying attention, it was just the aggregate amount of data that we saw being collected by the iOS particularly that shocked the general populace. For these people I have news for you;

This data and even more have been collected on you all for every service that you sign up for on the Internet. Every phone call you make, every text you send, every picture you upload. All of it is available to someone else who has access to the data.

It’s not private.

YOU have been giving away your personal data every minute of every day that you upload or pass through the telco/Internet systems.

So, even if laws are being subverted on personal searches, your data can and will be taken from the likes of Twitter and other services, perhaps even through NSL letters to those hosts and you will be none the wiser. For every post you put up on Facebook with all of your personal details, not only are you sharing that data with your “friends” but the company and whoever they want to sell it to as well.

The privacy you think you have.. Doesn’t exist.

In the case of the iOS data, no one knew about it from a customer perspective, but I am sure that there was some small print somewhere in the EULA when you bought the phone that allows Apple to collect the data… Not that they have to tell you they are doing it in big letters or clear language. So, that data too is not completely yours any more once you have agreed to their agreement to use/own the phone.

The short and long of it is that we are giving up our right to privacy for shiny toys and a sense of security that we can never really have.

In the end, the data that the iOS collects has yet to be proven to be sent to the Apple mother ship. Apple to date, has made no statement on the collection of the data nor the reasons for doing so. One can assume though, that they have some sort of location based software solution that they want to sell down the road and really, it’s caveat emptor. I am just glad that the security community likes to tinker and found this stuff, bringing it to light.

We are all to blame.

Unless we all take up the battle against the loss of privacy then we have none. Just as well, unless we speak truth to power and stop the erosion of rights to privacy within our body of laws, then we have nothing to complain about. We will have done it to ourselves.

K.

SMS Terror: Not so new but, this is a new twist

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One of the Taliban’s most effective tools to persuade Afghans not to work with the U.S. or its allies is the night letter — a note warning people they’ll be targeted for death unless they change their infidel-loving ways. But that’s too analog. These days, the Taliban is mass texting gruesome videos to Afghans’ cellphones to spread the same message.

The insurgency’s media committee produces videos like this one — which we won’t embed — glorifying suicide bombers and posts them on Taliban websites like Shahamat.info and Alemarah-iea.net. Befitting the growing importance of social media to insurgents, Facebook pages purporting to be adjuncts of Taliban propaganda networks pop up to display the imagery, hoping to slip past Facebook’s usage police.

But to maximize the videos’ reach, insurgents send them out through SMS chains, until they eventually reach unsuspecting Afghans. It’s a quick way to take night-letter videos viral — and disguise the usage chain from its origin, preventing authorities from shutting down the distribution system.

The rest is at Wired

Since the communications infrastructure has been built up some more with the help of the likes of private contractors in Afghanistan, it is only natural that mass SMS barrages would be used by the Taliban. This is not a new thing though to the jihadis, they have been passing along shahid videos for some time on mobile phones via SMS. The twist here is now instead of passing along just propaganda, they are also sending threats. It would seem the Talib’s have been taking cues from the rest of the world on social media and its uses.

Of course, the original method of scaring people into submission, to me, seems to be much more visceral, the “night letter” This is where people tack up a letter to your door and bang on it, scaring the occupants, something akin to a jack booted Nazi door kick. Except in this case these guys run away instead of  coming in and terrorizing everyone. It’s the Taliban version of leaving a dead rat tacked to the door.

On the other side of this though, I have to wonder about with all of the new infrastructure, there must be some potential to be tracking these SMS originators through their ESN’s right? Not all phones can be “burner” phones there in Afghanistan right? Even if they are, surely the cell towers can’t be that plentiful so as to make DF-ing them ponderous? If I were the anti terror forces, I would be heavily monitoring the comm’s anyway… So, keep on SMS-ing everyone Taliban! Soon the night letter will be coming to your flap.

CoB