- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Islamic State supporters are using Edward Snowden and his revelations about the U.S. government’s surveillance capabilities to urge followers of the terror group to adopt digital security practices, including the use of strong encryption.

Proponents of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, started circulating a propaganda video across the Internet in recent days which contains several clips from Citizenfour, the 2014 film about Mr. Snowden and the U.S. National Security Agency, along with advice for evading the NSA’s eavesdropping abilities.

Among the scenes from the Academy Award-winning documentary included in the 13-minute upload are clips in which the former government contractor describes the NSA’s ability to gather digital communications anywhere on Earth; retired intelligence expert Bill Binney is also shown discussing mass data analysis, and Jacob Appelbaum, a journalist and activist, describes how the NSA uses that information to make determinations about individuals based off of their interactions.

“This is just a drop in the ocean,” reads an English-language translation of a title card that appears at the end of the video, as reported first by Vocativ on Monday. “Our enemies are monitoring us day and night, collecting our information and targeting us. This is very dangerous. Carelessness and negligence in digital security cannot be tolerated.”

The video, “The Electronic War And The Negligence Of The Supporters Of Mujahedeen,” concludes by directing viewers to a website, written in Arabic, which links to several articles and pages containing tutorials and information about digital security, encryption and the Islamic State. It’s credited to “Technical Islamic State” and appears to have been created last July, but likely could see a resurgence in readers with the recent boost online from pro-Islamic State groups.

Vocativ reported that the video is the product of the Afaq Agency, “an ISIS-affiliated group focused on issues related to hacking and cyber security,” and was discovered using the website’s “deep web technology.” Isdarat, a site that hosts Islamic State propaganda on both the deep web and the more widely accessed “surface” web, began hosting the video on Saturday. The Vocativ article makes no mention of Isdarat, but claims the video was shared this week by the Afaq Agency’s account on Telegram, a social networking application popular among Islamic State supporters, and has since spread across social media.


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Regardless of its origin, the video is making waves in the midst of a heated debate between lawmakers in Washington and the Silicon Valley tech sector with respect to regulating encryption. A national security discussion has intensified in recent weeks over whether or not Internet companies should be forced to decrypt digital communications for investigators that are otherwise protected by strong end-to-end encryption, and was among the main topics at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure we’ve exhausted all the possibilities here technologically,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified while discussing solutions to the government’s so-called “going dark” debacle. “I would hope that we have not yet exhausted what can be done voluntarily.”

Several members of the Obama administration have blamed Mr. Snowden in the past for allegedly having aided terrorists as a result of his unauthorized disclosures, including Chris Inglis, NSA’s deputy director at the time the leaks were first reported.

“Having disclosed all of those methods, or at least some degree of those methods, it would be impossible to imagine that, as intelligent as they are in the use of technology, in the employment of communications for their own purposes, it’s impossible to imagine that they wouldn’t understand how they might be at risk to intelligence services around the world, not the least of which is the U.S. And they necessarily do what they think is in their best interest to defend themselves,” Mr. Inglis previously told The Washington Times.

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