Video Released By ISIS-Affiliated Media Outlet Promotes Cyber Security Awareness Among ISIS Supporters

May 24, 2016

On May 11, 2016, the ISIS-affiliated media outlet Electronic Horizons Foundation, which regularly publishes guides for internet security and discretion, released a video titled “Electronic Warfare and the Lack of Awareness among the Supporters of the Mujahideen 2.”[1] The 13-minute video presents excerpts from television reports about U.S. government surveillance programs that collect metadata on internet users, and is aimed at raising viewers’ awareness of the danger posed by these programs. The excerpts, in English and Portuguese, are subtitled in Arabic and are interspersed with Arabic slides stressing the importance of this issue.

The following is a transcription of the video: 

[Caption in Arabic:] “The Electronic Horizons Foundation presents:

[Former NSA chief Gen. (ret) Michael Hayden]: “We kill people based on metadata”

[Caption in Arabic:] “Cyber Warfare and Lack of Awareness of the Supporters of the Mujahideen 2”

[Slide in Arabic:] “The U.S. National Security Agency spies on the servers of Google, Apple, AOL, Skype, Facebook, Paltalk and Hotmail and collects users’ data and analyze it as part of the PRISM [surveillance] program.”

 

[From CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer”:]  Wolf Blitzer: “Well, [here is] a new fiery article which has just appeared on The Washington Post. It is breaking news that reveals another broad and secret U.S. Government surveillance program. The Washington Post and the Guardian in London report [that] the NSA and the FBI are tapping directly to the central servers of nine leading internet companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. The Posts says they are extracting audio, video, photographs, email, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.”

[Slide in Arabic:] “Among the documents leaked by Edward Snowden is one listing the countries whose communications, [including] all the data of their citizens, are being intercepted by the XkeyScore [computer] system which collects data from optical fiber cables used in data transfer.” 

[From program in Portuguese – Offices of the O Globo daily]

“The U.S. has spied on millions of emails and phone conversations in Brazil. I would like to show you [the information presented in] the new document in a much clearer format. This map shows the cables used by PRISM to collect data. This shows the volume of [data] collected. The thicker the line, the more data collected. You see these lines. They are much thicker in southern and northern Brazil and in the sea of Brazil. So they are collecting a lot [of data]  via PRISM, which I think is highly important, as PRISM means Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Yahoo and Hotmail. It shows that a lot [of information] has been stolen from Brazil. But we are not sure how much the Brazilian government knows and whether [the data was collected] with the collaboration of Brazilian companies. But I think we will [eventually] know. One day, we will know everything or almost everything. Yes.”

 

[Slide in Arabic:] “In order to defuse the public tension caused by the document Edward Snowden leaked in 2013, the NSA denied having the ability to tap into people’s data, and stated that it only collects metadata. [However, metadata] is sometimes more valuable than the content itself, since metadata enables the NSA to know who are you communicating with and when, and the geographic location of both parties.” 

[From program in Portuguese – Brazilian Senate hearing on NSA activity]

“Secondly, there is XkeyScore. When we started publishing articles, those defending the U.S. argued that it didn’t violate the content of these communications and that it only collects metadata, which means the names of those communicating, who is calling who, and the duration of the call. But if I know all the people you communicate with, and all the people they communicate with, and your location when you communicated, as well as the duration of the call, then I would know a lot about you and your activities and your life, and this is a huge violation of your privacy. [But] actually, this argument is completely false. The U.S. government has the ability to collect not only metadata but also the actual [content] of your email, what you say on the phone, the keywords you type on the Google search engine, the website[s] you visit and the document[s] you send to your colleagues. This system is able to monitor more or less everything people do on the internet.” 

[Slide in Arabic:] “The Federal Bureau of Investigation pressures tech companies that offer encrypted services to cooperate [with it] and grant it access to users’ data by creating a back door enabling the FBI to decode encrypted user data.

“In September 2013, the European Parliament launched hearings to investigate NSA surveillance of EU citizens and companies.”

[From European Parliament hearing] “Recent reports have revealed that the NSA has access to encryption keys, and they paid tech companies to introduce back doors in encryption protocols, so we are going to talk about ways in which we can defend ourselves against government spying on us. So Mr. Jacob Applebaum is an encryption and security software developer and journalist, [and] Ladar Levison is the founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit used by Edward Snowden. You have the floor.

“Thank you. Lavabit is an email service that hopefully one day will be able to stand on its own without any reference to Snowden. My service was designed to remove me from being forced to violate people’s privacy. Quite simply, Lavabit was designed to remove the service provider from the equation by not having logs in my servers and not having access to a person’s email on desks. I wasn’t eliminating the possibility of surveillance, I was simply removing myself from that equation, [so] that surveillance would have to be conducted on the targets, either the sender or the receiver of the messages. But I was approached by the FBI quite recently and told [that] because it didn’t turn over the information from that one particular user, I would be forced to give the SSL keys and let the FBI collect every communication on my network without any kind of transparency, and of course I wasn’t comfortable with that, to say the least. More disturbing was the fact that I couldn’t even tell anybody that it was going on. So I decided [that] if I didn’t win the fight to unseal my case, if I didn’t win the battle to be able to tell people what was going on, then my only ethical choice left was to shut down.”

[Slide in Arabic:] “The American NSA spies on local and international phone calls by collecting metadata on these calls, including the phone numbers, the duration and time of the call, the phones’ serial number, and the geographical location of both sides.”

[From CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper”] Jake Tapper: “That phone in your pocket right now may be a government spying device, according to a stunning article from the Guardian newspaper in the UK. The story says: A top secret court order is forcing Verizon to turn over all phone records for calls made in the U.S. to the National Security Agency. And not just calls made to overseas numbers. When you call grandma in Nebraska the NSA knows. This is a wide, indiscriminate net. They’re not even looking for someone specific. When a call is made, Verizon turns over this information: the phone number, the phone serial numbers, the location the call comes from, the time of the call, the duration of the call, and all the same information for the person on the other end of the phone, even if they’re not a Verizon customer.

“And if you move from one tower range to another, you can be tracked. Pretty much everything about the call, except what’s actually being said, is turned over under the order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, or FISA, court. Given that, it will not take much to figure out who you are. Without exactly confirming or denying the FISA order, Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the idea behind it today: ‘The information of the sort described in the article has been a critical tool, he said, in protecting the nation from terror threats.’ This order reportedly extends from April 25 to July 19, but it seems to be just a continuation of a court order that has been going on for seven years, one Congress has known all about. The Republican chairman of the House Select Committee of Intelligence [Mike Rogers] today called it a vital tool.”

[Rep. Mike Rogers:] “Within the last few years, this program was used to stop a program, oh excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States, we know that. It’s important. It fills in a little seam that we have, and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard, it is a very valuable thing.”

[Jake Tapper:] “And in all likelihood this court order to Verizon is just the only one we know about. You know who would be very angry about this government snooping? A bright-eyed senator from Illinois, remember, who was upset when a similar story about the NSA grabbing phone data from millions of Americans was reported during the Bush years. He said this in 2007: [Barack Obama]: ‘I’ll provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out a terrorist without undermining our constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war.'”

[Jake Tapper:] “So instead, let’s track every citizen? One member of the Senate Select Committee of Intelligence who has been briefed on these practices and was clearly upset – although until today we are not really sure what he was upset about because he could not tell us – is Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. On March 12, about a month and a half before this current order was signed, Wyden seemed to be trying to get the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to admit that this kind of NSA operation was going on.”

[Sen. Ron Wyden and Gen. (ret.) James R. Clapper, United States Director of National Intelligence:]

“- Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?

“- No, sir.

“- It does not?

“- Not wittingly.”

[Jake Tapper:] “If the order uncovered by the Guardian is merely a renewal, as the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee today indicated, then shouldn’t Clapper’s answers have been, ‘yes’ and ‘quite wittingly’? Clapper’s office today did not respond our requests for comments.”

 

[Slide in Arabic] “This is only the tip of the iceberg. Our enemies are lying in wait for the monotheists night and day in order to monitor them and collect their data, and then target them based on this information. This is a very dangerous matter. Cyber safety must not be taken lightly or neglected. The brothers and sisters [i.e., ISIS supporters] must understand this before time runs out. Go to the [Electronic Horizons Foundation’s] tech archive to understand how to protect yourselves and what the appropriate means for this are.”

The video then presents a link to a document which contains links to Electronic Horizons Foundation articles and how-to guides. It also presents links to the foundation’s Telegram channels: its main channel, its “library” channel [a collection of past publications] and its “tech support” channel.

Endnote:

[1] Telegram.me/e_horizons, May 11, 2016.