Huge library of online Daesh propaganda uncovered

One of the biggest collections of extremist online material belonging to Daesh has been uncovered by researchers at a London-based anti-extremism think tank. (File/Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 04 September 2020

Huge library of online Daesh propaganda uncovered

  • Most of those visiting the library are 18 to 24-year-old males in the Arab world
  • 40 percent of the traffic comes from social media including YouTube

LONDON: One of the biggest collections of extremist online material belonging to Daesh has been uncovered by researchers at a London-based anti-extremism think tank.
The digital library, which was discovered by the Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD), is visited by around 10,000 different visitors per month, the BBC reported.
Most of those visiting the library are 18 to 24-year-old males in the Arab world, with 40 percent of the traffic coming from social media including YouTube.
It contains more than 90,000 items and provides a way to continually add to extremist content on the Internet, the British broadcaster said.
However, taking the material down is proving difficult because it is not stored in a single location.
It continues to grow despite counter-terrorism authorities in Britain and the US being alerted to the growing collection, which was discovered after the death of Daesh chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in October 2019.
After his death, many social media posts supporting the militant organization contained a short link that led to documents and videos in nine different languages.
They included details of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, the 7/7 London bombings in 2005 and the 9/11 attacks in the US.
“[There’s] everything you need to know to plan and carry out an attack,” ISD deputy director Moustafa Ayad, who discovered the archive, told the BBC. “Things that teach you how to be a better terrorist essentially.”
The collection’s data is spread across a decentralized system and anyone can share the content via servers based at multiple locations, researchers discovered.
This makes is hard to take the library offline, and it continues to provide extremist content to its readers.
Researchers found that various methods are used to make the material available online.
Targeting and hijacking Twitter accounts belonging to celebrities and athletes and using them to promote the material is one method.
Another way is to add material to social media comments pages and spreading it via bot accounts.


French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago

French police target extremist networks after teacher’s beheading

  • President Emmanuel Macron: Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country
  • French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom

PARIS: French police on Monday launched a series of raids targeting extremist networks three days after the beheading of a history teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

The operation came a day after tens of thousands of people took part in rallies countrywide to honor history teacher Samuel Paty and defend freedom of expression.

Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said “dozens” of individuals were being probed for suspected radicalization.

While they were “not necessarily linked” to Paty’s killing, the government aimed to send a message that there would be “not a minute’s respite for enemies of the Republic,” he added.

Darmanin said the government would also tighten the noose on NGOs with suspected links to extremist networks.

“Fear is about to change sides,” President Emmanuel Macron told a meeting of key ministers Sunday to discuss a response to the attack.

“Extremists should not be allowed sleep soundly in our country,” he said.

Paty, 47, was attacked on his way home from the junior high school where he taught in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Paris.

A photo of the teacher and a message confessing to his murder was found on the mobile phone of his killer, an 18-year-old Chechen man Abdullakh Anzorov, who was shot dead by police.

The grisly killing has drawn parallels with the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where 12 people, including cartoonists, were gunned down for publishing cartoons mocking Mohammed.

Paty had shown his civics class one of the controversial cartoons.

According to his school, Paty had given Muslim children the option to leave the classroom before he showed the cartoon in a lesson on free speech, saying he did not want their feelings hurt.

The lesson sparked a furor nonetheless and Paty and his school received threats.

Eleven people are being held over his murder, including a known radical and the father of one of Paty’s pupils, who had launched an online campaign against the teacher.

Darmanin accused the two men of having issued a “fatwa” against Paty, using the term for an edict that was famously used to describe the 1989 death sentence handed down against writer Salman Rushdie by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

Anzorov’s family arrived in France from the predominantly Muslim Russian republic of Chechnya when he was six.

Locals in the Normandy town of Evreux where he lived described him as a loner who had become increasingly religious in recent years.

Police are trying to establish whether he acted alone.

Four members of his family are being held for questioning.

In scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack, when over a million people marched through Paris to defend press freedom, people again gathered at the central Place de la Republique on Sunday to express their horror over Paty’s death.

Some in the crowd chanted “I am Samuel,” echoing the 2015 “I am Charlie” rallying call for free speech.

French teachers have long complained of tensions around religion and identity spilling over into the classroom.

The government has vowed to step up security at schools when pupils return after half-term.

Far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who laid a wreath outside Paty’s school on Monday, called for “wartime legislation” to combat the terror threat.

Le Pen, who has announced she will make a third bid for the French presidency in 2022, called for an “immediate” moratorium on immigration and for all foreigners on terror watchlists to be deported.

Paty’s beheading was the second knife attack since a trial started last month over the Charlie Hebdo killings.

The magazine republished the cartoons in the run-up to the trial, and last month a young Pakistani man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the publication’s old office.