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4 Aug, 2016 12:27

ISIS using Telegram app to plot attacks on US bases in Middle East – Israeli hackers

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has issued a call to target airbases used by the US in the Middle East, an Israeli cyber-intelligence company warned, after it allegedly hacked into the terror group's Telegram communication system.

According to Intsights, an Israeli intelligence startup based in Herzliya city, IS has listed “extremely specific targets” in the Telegram system, “with a call to attack them,” Channel 10 reported.

While a number of airfields used by the US Air Force were listed, “priority targets” singled out bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, according to Intsights’ co-founder and vice-president of intelligence, Alon Arvatz.

“The long list includes exact coordinates for each and every target, all of which are airports and airbases that are used or could be used by the United States Air Force all over the world,” Arvatz told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) in an interview.

The complete list also reportedly included targets in Latin America, Europe, and Israel.

The information was gathered after analysts from Intsights infiltrated a chat allegedly used by IS to communicate internationally. Founded by three Israeli veterans of top Israel Defense Forces (IDF) intelligence and cyber-warfare units, Intsights describes itself as a “small company which provides intelligence and incident mitigation in real time by gathering and analyzing data from the darknet, an encrypted and secretive section of the Internet often used by criminal elements.”

The intel group says that the Telegram application has been used by the top 500 IS operatives to share plans and locations for potential terror attacks.

“The Telegram app is completely encrypted, which means no fear of someone monitoring your correspondence and understanding what it means,” Arvatz said. “That’s why IS moved from traditional social media to Telegram over the last year.”

Although the Insights team did not reveal how it managed to hack into the chat group, Arvatz did say that it is accessed by IS members who then introduce other members.

“I need to know someone who can vouch for me that I'm cleared for the group, and only then can I join,” he said.

Arvatz went on to state that the Normandy church where a priest was killed by IS “soldiers” last week was also “on a target list published several months ago, and someone recently decided to answer the call and attacked that very church.”

“This proves beyond doubt that there is a direct link between cyber activity and actual terror[ist] attacks,” Arvatz said.