ISIS’ Digital Caliphate Going Dark – Darknet, That Is

The digital propaganda machine of ISIS has run into trouble staying afloat on the clear net, and so like most other banned information, they’re heading to the deep web. While this may severely limit the ability of the group to dutifully indoctrinate new members who aren’t skilled in the arts of Tor, the group hopes the sites will at least stay online.

Researcher Scot Terban discovered the latest effort via a post on the popular Jihadi forum, Shamikh. The translated message (by Google) reads:

The name of Allah the Merciful given the very narrow on the site # Asaddarat_klavh so that it is deleting any new domain after its publication announce the launch of the site on the “Dark web” * will work for users of the Tor and users of ordinary users of the Tor link: XXXXXXXXXX link ordinary users: XXXXXXX and we promise you that we are continuing to try to get a new range of normal and we will publish, God willing, when you get it next to the scope of the Tor {Glory be to God, His Prophet and the believers}.

The actual onion address is here redacted, but as Terban says, “the right people know” how to access the site. Terban mirrored the contents of the site, and will be posting more findings in the days to come. Some of the content is chilling, celebrating the Paris attacks in several languages and declaring that the “the fight has just begun.” IS sign

Beyond just encouraging users to start using Tor as a means to communicate, the new forum directs people to use Telegram, the end-to-end encrypted instant messaging platform which is
celebrated for its ease of use. Terrorist usage of secure digital communications have been a hot issue in some parts of the mainstream press, with David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth of the New York Times who recently said:

It is also possible the Paris attackers conducted much of their planning face to face, particularly since several lived in the same Brussels neighborhood. But if there was a command center in Syria or elsewhere, some form of communications would have been required.

Among the security community, encrypted communications have long been considered a human right based on the fundamental belief in the right to privacy. Many see it as no different than anything else – it can be used for good or ill, but it should not be outlawed simply because evil men occasionally find it useful. Similar arguments are constantly made regarding gun control and freedom of the press.

To some, it’s like saying that since terrorists drink water, we should ban water. Since they drive cars, no one should be allowed to have cars. It gets sillier the more one thinks about it – the idea that making certain technologies illegal will somehow make them inaccessible to bad men. After all, the prohibition strategy has not been successful in any other pursuit to date.

In the end, a free society is going to be more vulnerable than a controlled one by nature. Those who feel the solution is to make society less free will generally benefit from as much, while those who do not are defending human rights.

Images from Shutterstock.



P. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at