Report: Islamic State Has 24-Hour Help Desk

Islamic State fighters in Raqqa, Syria / AP
November 16, 2015

The Islamic State has a 24-hour help desk dedicated to training would-be terrorists in how to communicate under the radar of intelligence services and law enforcement.

The help desk allows Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) militants spread messages, recruit supporters, and plan attacks while evading intelligence services, according to counterterrorism analysts affiliated with the Army.

NBC News reported:

The relatively new development--which law enforcement and intel officials say has ramped up over the past year--is alarming because it allows potentially thousands of ISIS followers to move about and plan operations without any hint of activity showing up in their massive collection of signals intelligence. ... "They’ve developed a series of different platforms in which they can train one another on digital security to avoid intelligence and law enforcement agencies for the explicit purpose of recruitment, propaganda and operational planning," said Aaron F. Brantly, a counterterrorism analyst at the Combating Terrorism Center, an independent research organization at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Brantly was the lead author of a CTC report on the Islamic State’s use of secure communications, based on hundreds of hours of observation of how the Jihadi Help Desk operates.

Brantly further stated that the Islamic State’s cyber capabilities allow the terrorists to communicate "in a much more expeditious manner."

"They are now operating at the speed of cyberspace rather than the speed of person-to-person communications," Brantly said.

The revelations about the IS help desk come just days after the group claimed responsibility for the shootings and suicide bombings in Paris that killed at least 129 people and wounded hundreds more.

During remarks Monday, CIA Director John Brennan said that privacy protections put in place as a result of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in 2013 have made it more difficult for U.S. intelligence agencies to find terrorists.

"There are a lot of technological capabilities that are available right now that make it exceptionally difficult both technically as well as legally for intelligence security services to have insight that they need to uncover it," Brennan stated at the Center for Strategic & International Studies forum.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, individuals purporting to be IS militants released a video threatening attacks on the U.S. and other countries participating in air strikes against the terrorist group in the Middle East.

Published under: Terrorism