The terrorist communication app

Rowan Scarborough:
The Islamic State’s terrorist army in recent weeks has used channels on a popular messaging app to show gruesome killings and to instruct followers on how to attack the U.S. with chemical weapons, despite the app’s assertion that it blocks such extremists.

The terrorists’ presentations have appeared on at least two channels on Telegram, the messaging platform launched and subsidized by Russian dissident Pavel Durov from his adopted home, Berlin.

Telegram offers encrypted messaging, ensuring the privacy of users who increasingly include Islamic terrorists. They can plan without worrying about authorities intercepting their communications.

Telegram also offers public video channels.

A libertarian, Mr. Durov created the free-of-charge Telegram in 2013 as a tool for political dissidents, including those in his home country of Russia. His overriding user theme: privacy.

He asserts in his web page’s guidelines and in a series of Twitter messages last month that Telegram takes down extremist messages and videos.

“Some media claimed Telegram did little or nothing to stop ISIS from using its platform,” he tweeted. “Nothing can be further from the truth!”

He retweeted a message from Telegram itself: “Every day we block over 60 ISIS-related channels before they get any traction, more than 2,000 channels each month.”

Steve Stalinsky, who directs the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), told The Washington Times that Mr. Durov is not telling the truth.

“I am currently following over a thousand jihadi Telegram accounts and ‘chats,’ the majority of them are affiliated with ISIS, al Qaeda and also smaller jihadi groups including Hezbollah and the Taliban,” said Mr. Stalinsky, whose group monitors all types of jihadi communications. “Every time one of these accounts gets updated, a ‘ding’ is [sounded] to notify users. I never leave the volume on my computer anymore, because there literally is nonstop dinging happening. Just about every second of the day, a jihadi is posting something new on Telegram.”
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Apparently, they are not very effective at blocking the use by ISIL.  I assume the NSA is watching these communications as best they can, but one of the fallouts from the Snowden episode is that the enemy is using more apps like this to avoid intercepts of their plots.

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