GDI Risk Advisory Group

Posts Tagged ‘Al Qaeda’

Electronic Jihad – The New Terrorism?

In cyber security, cyber terrorism, cyber threats, Defense, Global Economy, Intelligence, Iran, Israel, Libya, multinational corporations, North Korea, Syria, Terrorism on May 24, 2014 at 6:55 am

cyber hoodie pic

March 2014 marked the hacking of 12 Indonesian Government websites by unknown hackers made up of both adventure enthusiasts and radicals. Apart from giving the hackers visibility, the episode crippled critical components of Indonesian government’s daily functioning where e-Governance is depended upon so much. This does not appear to be an isolated episode but enumerates scores of other recent transnational cyber attacks performed by non-state actors for a larger ideological goal.  This new era of ‘Cyber Jihad’ has far reaching implication, and if fully realized, would further underscore the magnitude of threats that it presents to practically every industry and government sector around the world.

The Edge will be presenting a three part series on what some cyber officials are calling the ‘Electronic Jihad’, and how it is shaping the landscape for this new battleground of international terrorism.

PART I – The New Cyber Warriors and their Tactics

Although the traditional purveyors of cyber attacks – states like China, Iran and their supporters continue to dominate state sponsored activities across the global cyber sphere, the existences groups of irregulars and non state actors – script kiddies, anarchists, hacktivists, hostile insiders, criminal elements and independent enthusiasts have added additional challenges, more lethal and ominous for legitimate Governments and multinational corporations to combat than could have been imagined.  The current state of cyberspace warfare will move to control every spectrum of a conventional battlefield – space, energy & power, economic and finance. This lays out an eerie scenario when a state or multinational is presented with evidence that weapons of cyber warfare are available to any warrior in the cyber world and they are available in the public domain.

In the field of intelligence and counter terrorism, capability assessments form an essential part of gaging the threat. Such assessments provide astonishing outcomes, especially when presented with inputs about a power system being attacked such as the case in the US by a cyber jihadist group.  This input was as early as January 2014, at a time when government agencies and regulators around the world have worked tirelessly to institute stringent control measures, cyber security monitoring and information security audits to defend against these very attacks.  Infiltrating these perimeters and conducting attacks on a critical infrastructure demonstrates the extent and capability being harnessed by cyber jihadists.

Counter terror operations are now challenged with the concept of identifying ‘cyber trade craft’, cyber radicalization, and recruitment.  The entire cycle of Spotting, Recruiting and Developing an agent for these activities can be comfortably performed from the confines of one’s home.  Blogs like (Jamia Hafsa Urdu Forum) and Al have been critically tracking developments in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and using these issues to motivate members to fight against intruding western government and corporations.  Membership in the cyber realm is usually a virtual walk-in or referral, in which case both can be entertained using pseudonyms.  As a result, we have a potential candidates in the terror recruitment cycle being indoctrinated to fight in the cyber space, and have his/her identity concealed which keeps the original identity intact.  Ironically, these very recruits are corporate employees, information technology experts, businessmen, educated youths in the real-world.  We thus have the creation of an educated breed fighting a radical cause in an open world notoriously shrouded by fake IP addresses.  Through the creation of fake social media profiles, recruiters are able to conduct targeting, spotting and assessing operations for indoctrination.  Through the use of such tactics as  cyber ‘Dead drops’ – where confidential messages are passed in the cyber world and the use of image and text files, they are able to communicate without the possibility of it being detected.  A bomb attack in Tel Aviv back in January 2013 had traces of planning activities left in the cyber world when members posted a message in .jpg format highlighting the plans to attack Tel Aviv.  This was made more scrupulous by the use of codes in the image or text files.  Agencies tracking keywords to identify a possible attack would have missed the inconspicuous text hiding superficially in an image format.  In the real world, recruitments for these causes is prone to being intercepted by security agencies.  However, cyber ‘handling’ accomplishes not just recruitment but also indoctrination, financing and tasking for a potential acts without ever having a handler and agent come in contact. 

How big is the challenge to secure global cyber infrastructure?  It’s huge and growing by the second.  As new users and new technologies take hold, the scale of the battlefield expands exponentially.  Join us next month for Part II as we examine other players, threats and the tactics being employed by this new breed of terrorists.

Lebanon: The Syria Playbook

In Defense, FYI - For Your Intelligence, Intelligence, International, International Trade, Israel, Libya, Terrorism, Uncategorized on December 29, 2013 at 4:37 am

LebSyrFlagWith Assad continuing to make his stand against Western backed forces and various jihad extremist groups in Syria, he has pulled an old play out of the go-to playbook for his regime. He has elected to use his faithful ally Hezbollah to open a new front. As Syria continues to sink into its current battlefield quagmire at home, taking out another high level politician in Beirut expands the scope of his operations, and provides relief through distraction. And with the assassination of the Hezbollah leader earlier this month, it all comes across as a justification on the part of Hezbollah. But make no mistake, this is the same MO as with previous assassinations and it will have Syria’s prints all over it.

The real issue is how US foreign policy is allowing for the war to spread, the empowerment of extremist groups to grow and for old and new terrorism breeding grounds to flourish. Libya and Syria are key examples, and indicators are that Iraq is beginning to follow suit. Here’s what the international media is reporting to support this.

New data surfaces on bin Laden’s 9 year trail? Not really.

In Intelligence, Terrorism, U.S. on September 13, 2010 at 11:20 pm

New information emerges on hunt for bin Laden

A European official with ties to western intelligence has provided details about where the world’s most wanted fugitive has been over the past nine years.  The official discloses how intelligence services have had information on bin Laden’s whereabouts and have been able to track his route over a good portion of that 9 year period.   They even go as far as to claim that Khalid Sheihk Mohammed met with bin Laden before his capture in Pakistan back in 2003.  The real story here is nothing.  Most of this data came out as a result of KSM reporting or in the recent Wiki-leaks.  The situation has hardly changed.   UBL and Dr. Zawahiri are still believed to be in the tribal area of Pakistan and within communication.  This newest report is nothing new.

Iraq back in the news: Sunni cleric death shows Iraqi government’s challenges

In Defense, Terrorism on September 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Gunmen behead, set alight Sunni cleric in Iraq

Straight out of Diyala province comes an act of terror resembling those that pre-date the U.S. military surge in Iraq.  This particular murder is significant since it resembles the heinous acts used to threaten and intimidate locals in the early stages of the Al Qaeda insurgency.  In this case the cleric was a Sahwa supporter, a group who assisted U.S. forces in defeating Al Qaeda.  It was these types of atrocities that allowed the insurgency to get a foothold and grow.  Unfortunately, remnants of the Al Qaeda insurgency remain in areas like Diyala and if left unchecked can reassert themselves back into the mix.  A long delay by the Iraqis to seat their unified government and support their police and military will only result in a loss of the advances of the surge.  Iraq cannot afford to delay.  They cannot take on a reinvigorated Al Qaeda by themselves – and with Al Qaeda in Yemen in the mix – the challenge would be insurmountable.

Pakistan: As flood relief breaks bad

In International, Terrorism, U.S. on September 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Reports of Christian Aid Workers Killed by Taliban in Pakistan Still Unconfirmed

Banned JuD brazenly collecting funds for flood relief in Lahore

It was just a matter of time.  While Taliban and Al Qaeda members shake down local flood victims in Pakistan and reports of the killing of humanitarian aid workers surface, how long did you think it would take until these groups and their affiliates begin using the opportunity to access and raise funds through flood relief?  Interestingly enough, international organizations and governments are already crying foul to the fact that it is taking so long for relief funds to reach the victims.  What will happen now with these latest developments?  Will bureaucratic hold-ups continue to plague these relief efforts even more as relief organizations must now take greater steps to vet receiving organizations and recipients?  Or will they just turn a blind eye as flood money soon becomes blood money?