Islamic State’s online army is a Russian front, says German intelligence

Cyber CaliphateA German intelligence report alleges that the so-called ‘Cyber Caliphate’, the online hacker wing of the Islamic State, is in fact a Russian front, ingeniously conceived to permit Moscow to hack Western targets without retaliation. The group calling itself Cyber Caliphate first appeared in early 2014, purporting to operate as the online wing of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), later renamed Islamic State. Today the Cyber Caliphate boasts a virtual army of hackers from dozens of countries, who are ostensibly operating as the online arm of the Islamic State. Their known activities include a strong and often concentrated social media presence, and computer hacking, primarily in the form of cyber espionage and cyber sabotage.

Since its inception, the Cyber Caliphate has claimed responsibility for hacking a number of European government agencies and private media outlets. Its targets include the BBC and French television channel TV5 Monde, which was severely impacted by cyber sabotage in April of 2015. The Cyber Caliphate said it was also behind attacks on the servers of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Defense, and the website of the Pentagon’s US Central Command. The US has since retaliated, both with cyber attacks and physical strikes. One such strike resulted in the killing of Junaid Hussain, a British hacker of Pakistani background, who was said to be among the Cyber Caliphate’s senior commanders. Hussain, 21, was reportedly killed in August 2015 in Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, reportedly after clicking on a compromised link in an email, which gave away his physical whereabouts.

Now, however, a German intelligence report claims that the Cyber Caliphate is not associated with the Islamic State, but is rather a fictitious front group created by Russia. According to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which said it had seen the classified report, German authorities suggest that the Cyber Caliphate is in fact a project of APT28 (also known as ‘Pawn Storm’), a notorious Russian hacking collective with close ties to Russian intelligence. The German intelligence report echoes previous assessments by French authorities, which in 2015 stated that the TV5 Monde cyber attack was a false flag operation orchestrated by APT28. Also in 2015, a security report by the US State Department concluded that despite the Cyber Caliphate’s proclamations of connections to the Islamic State, there were “no indications —technical or otherwise— that the groups are tied”.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 20 June 2016 | Permalink

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

3 Responses to Islamic State’s online army is a Russian front, says German intelligence

  1. Pingback: MILNEWS.ca Highlights – June 20, 2016 | MILNEWS.ca Blog

  2. Donald Trump says:

    Oh, wow.

    Can we take this seriously at all? Is there evidence? What good is the news going to be to anyone who cares when the information war really picks up?

    Already today the number one phrase a “conspiracy theorist” knows is “false flag.” Yesterday we had stories of paid Russian and CIA internet trolls. Today, the Russians are ISIS. Tomorrow, when everyone is accusing everyone of being everyone else, don’t we have a Man Who Was Thursday type situation? First, that book didn’t end satisfactorily. Second, this is going to result in the destruction of the language; lying is already common place, but imagine when it is the policy of every major world government; words, definitions, twist to say things they don’t mean. We see the constant, borderline obsessive, foisting of minds on “identity” politics today, and, in the context of an information war, these will come to being both meaningless and the only things with meaning (I say that and I hate postmodernism – keep that in mind). How do “I” understand xyz is all there will be.

    Given an information war, further, when sources are prominent politically active corporate media institutions citing their “insider privilege” to reading “classified reports” all I can surmise is “this is what they want me to think,” at the very least. The European media has been conflating Russian and ISIS propaganda for a few years (see: VPRO’s documentary “Branding Europe”) and in startling ways (just listen closely to the first 45 or so seconds of that documentary – the morals of Europe are being beaten down, not by Russia and ISIS, but by their own media).

    The truth is going to become and underground concept that is afforded the same credibility we give give to phrenology.

  3. Pingback: Islamic State’s online army is a Russian front, says German intelligence | Anti Corruption Digest

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