A 24-hour Jihadi Help Desk is said to be teaching ISIS terrorists how to use communication encrypting technologies to prevent intelligence and law enforcement agencies from eavesdropping on their messages.
The platform is believed to be highly decentralized and maintained by five or six core members with expert technical knowledge, creating materials for both savvy and non-tech savvy ISIS foot soldiers. Recruitment, propaganda and operational planning occurs through the same Help Desk and tools for one-to-one encrypted communication are made available to all members.
“They answer questions from the technically mundane to the technically savvy to elevate the entire jihadi community to engage in global terror,” said Aaron F. Brantly, a counterterrorism analyst at the Combating Terrorism Center in an interview. “Clearly this enables them to communicate and engage in operations beyond what used to happen, and in a much more expeditious manner. They are now operating at the speed of cyberspace rather than the speed of person-to-person communications.”
FBI Director James Comey believes these new tools not only allow terrorist organizations to “go dark,” but also make it easier to recruit and spread propaganda through the internet. More than 300 pages of documentation are said to have been obtained from the Jihadi Help Desk, training jihadists in digital operational security.
“They also post YouTube Videos, going step by step over how to use these technologies,” Brantly said. “Imagine you have a problem and need to solve it and go to YouTube; they have essentially established the same mechanism [for terrorism].”
Authorities have expressed concern regarding these new cyber-capabilities of terrorists and believe that, to prevent terrorist attacks, they must understand how these communication tools work.