“Digital Terrorism”: Hidden ISIS Funding and New Recruitment

A recent study warned of the challenges of the digital world that extremist groups exploit to promote their ideas, attract young people and finance their operations, in light of a global trend to tighten anti-terrorism legislation.

According to a study by the “European Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies”, based in Germany, the dangers of extremist organizations to international security, including digital and cyber security, have escalated in recent years, as terrorist technologies are no longer the same as before, which means that the intelligence services are in a race with “artificial intelligence.” And the challenges of the digital world exploited by extremist groups, in a world that is perhaps invisible to the ordinary citizen, which is the dark and deep web.

Attracting young people

She explained that the extremist organizations realized early on the importance of the Internet and social media platforms, and considered them a safe outlet for spreading and implementing their ideological project, after acknowledging the failure of secret organizations and direct recruitment in light of the international security attack and regional organization.

She said that the digital world and its advanced and secure tools have enhanced the ability of the terrorist organization ISIS to promote its extremist ideas and attract young people to be part of the “lone wolf” scheme easily to carry out terrorist operations from their rooms, especially with the use of applications and networks that are not monitored by security such as Telegram and “Deep Web”.

This was supported by a study prepared by the Monitor of Takfiri Fatwas and Extremist Opinions of the Egyptian Dar al-Ifta entitled “Strategies and Ideologies of Terrorist Groups in Recruiting Young People via the Internet,” asserting that social media networks, websites and platforms represent an electronic university for preparing and recruiting “lone wolves” and a fertile tool for spreading their extremist ideas.

UN discusses new ways of financing terrorism

She explained that terrorist groups classify communication sites according to their appropriate use, as they are active on Facebook to lure young people in indirect ways, while Twitter is used to spread news promoting extremist ideas, and Telegram is used to contribute to the dissemination of the organization’s literature, writings and links to its video and video reports, to promote fake successes, while It takes advantage of YouTube to enable its participants to download videos before deletion, as the site’s monitoring system is done after the videos are uploaded to it.

The companies responsible for the applications are making extensive efforts to remove extremist content, and ISIS has already lost many of its pages on Twitter, Telegram and Facebook, in light of the European Commission’s efforts to impose new laws that push these sites and other Internet companies to remove the extremist content of ISIS and other extremist organizations, or face fines, but Despite these strict measures, the ISIS ideology is betting on the use of Live Chat applications.

This was confirmed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, in June 2018, during a high-level conference on counter-terrorism, saying that “the front lines to combat terrorism are not only present on the ground, but are increasingly becoming on the Internet, as terrorists exploit social media and messages encrypted and dark web for spreading propaganda, recruiting members, and coordinating attacks.

ways to finance

Under the title “Bitcoin and the Charities of Jihad”, the terrorist organization ISIS issued a fatwa permitting dealing in digital currencies to conduct its terrorist operations in the face of global financial systems that are struggling to prevent logistical support for terrorism. The sites affiliated with ISIS on the Internet also included advertisements for donating to its operations and the possibility of paying via electronic currencies.

The study indicated that, “Away from the eyes of European intelligence and the control of governments in the countries of the world, terrorist organizations were able to communicate in complete secrecy, collect financial donations, send and receive money in a secure environment, through the dark Internet or the so-called Deep Web, a network that does not depend on regular browsers that display The content of the Internet is only the outer shell, but rather it harnesses complex systems that are difficult for intelligence systems to track.

According to an earlier study of the Center, it has leaders Daesh currencies Bitcoin worth $ 300 million amid fears of increasing the size of these currencies and exploited in the implementation of new waves of terrorist attacks .

The study emphasized that this requires governments at a national level to escalate their efforts and rise to new challenges in the digital world, which has become a threat no less than those threats on the ground.

Searching for survival

Writer and researcher specializing in political Islam movements, Mustafa Zahran, said, ” Terrorist organizations in general and ISIS in particular have been diversifying sources of funding.”

Zahran added in an interview with “Sky News Arabia”, that “finances represent the elements of survival for terrorist organizations. In the past, they depended on funding from countries, institutions, and the like. When they moved to the axis of independence, they became self-reliant, hence the need for multiplicity.” funding sources.

 He explained that ISIS “has many means from which it obtains its funding, and wherever these goals are found, it turns its kiss towards them, and an example of this recently is in Mozambique in the heart of Africa, as it turns towards gold mines and others, and then tends to collect what looks like taxes from the areas it controls.” Geography”.

He continued: “Between this and that, and by moving from the earth to cyberspace, ISIS’s tendency to such funding patterns reflects its capabilities and the extent of its thinking in inventing new ways to combat the legislation enacted by countries to stop logistical support for extremist organizations.”

The chord of the oppressed

On the means of polarization, Zahran said that “the organization is working in this file through several ways, most notably the religious aspect, and then playing on the chord of victimhood and marginalized groups and minorities that are oppressed in some countries until they become an easy prey for terrorist organizations and then inaugurate and create many new wolves to launch them in the world.” to carry out his terrorist agenda

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