Hackers are infiltrating ISIS media channels and filling them with porn

Thursday, 23 November 2017, 04:37:38 AM. A group of Iraqi hackers is infiltrating ISIS messaging channels and websites.

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A group of young Iraqi hackers launched an online operation against the Islamic State this weekend by sticking pornography into the terrorist group’s propaganda.  

The group called Daeshgram, a play on the word Instagram and the acronym ISIS uses for itself, is making ISIS supporters doubt whether they can trust the group's information channels by infiltrating messaging and media sites and spreading fake information. One of its main targets is pro-ISIS groups on the encrypted application Telegram, which is often used by ISIS supporters.  

"Our intention was to flood the market with fake Amaq content in order to dilute the credibility of Amaq - a so-called news agency," one anonymous Daeshgram hacker explained to Newsweek.

"Daesh responded by telling supporters not to trust any of the Amaq links.They even had fights among themselves about the topic and deleted each other from various groups," the hacker added, referring to ISIS and its followers by the acronym Daesh. 

In one of its first acts, Daeshgram photoshopped a pornographic scene into an ISIS announcement about the opening of a new media center in Syria. A video of ISIS supporters listening to the announcement was altered to appear as if the extremists were actually watching a projection of a naked woman. The move not only showed off the group's technical capabilities, but had a certain satirical quality: Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden allegedly had a substantial porn collection stashed in the compound where he was killed in Pakistan. 

"We wanted Daesh to know that we are inside their groups to create a level of paranoia and distrust," the hacker told Newsweek. "Many Daesh clicked on it and saw it as fake. The odd thing is that when Daesh marked the content as fake, even more Daesh clicked on it to understand why a genuine looking link and content is fake." 

The group also hit the terrorist group’s media site Amaq with a distributed denial-of-service attack, which floods a website with such a large quantity of incoming traffic that it is forced offline.

The hackers then created an identical version of the page with messages that mocked the radical Sunni group’s ideology. They had spent months studying the extremist group’s online messages so they could accurately mimic the way they posted.

Their activities sparked controversy and confusion within pro-ISIS Telegram groups, as supporters scrambled to understand what information was real and who was betraying them.

Western analysts and law enforcement also use ISIS Telegram channels and propaganda to glean information about the group. The fact that a group of young hackers could so easily replicate the terrorist group’s message raised questions about whether intelligence operations could also be thwarted.

The hackers, however, said they understand the pitfalls of fake news, and know that it has contributed to destabilizing democratic systems. But they still hope their activities will ultimately weaken the Islamic State and work to delegitimize it.

"Go on Telegram and you will see that Daesh are confused about Amaq and don’t trust it," the Daeshgram hacker said. "So we think we have been successful to an extent, and we are only 6 people." 

This story has been updated to include new comments from Daeshgram hackers. 

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