The account emerging from French officials, witnesses and those who interacted with the suspected terrorists shows how the operation hinged on Mr. Abaaoud’s ability to use the tools of everyday modern life to lay the groundwork for the massacre. The ease with which he and his teams moved—all while avoiding detection by France’s security apparatus—suggests the challenges in identifying would-be terrorists and preventing further attacks in the fluid, digital and transnational world of today, especially when they are European citizens.
The array of car rentals, cellphones and online lodging reservations allowed Mr. Abaaoud to organize his militants as separate cells to ensure the plot wouldn’t unravel if one of the teams was compromised. Likewise, Mr. Abaaoud exploited Europe’s porous border system, sneaking stadium bombers into the continent amid the crush of Syrian refugees washing over Greece and tapping European nationals who could wield their own passports to move freely about the region.
In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks it is important to recognize a few important points as the media bombards the world with comments from scared politicians, especially in the United States more than anywhere. Like with any form of security, the primary operating foundation is risk management. This is in stark contrast to what the average citizen believes – the ability to prevent every terrorist attack.
Like in the ephemeral world of cyber security, it is impossible to stop every single attack, every day, from now through eternity. In cyber, attacks happen constantly – not a minute passes without some cyber weaponry being fired. Malicious actors continuously launch operations designed to disrupt or compromise their targets.
The differentiators in cyber are the low threshold to arm oneself, and the ability to attack without causing any form of physical harm. This makes it easy to constantly pull a so-called cyber trigger without ever needing to stop. People almost never face actual bodily harm.
The type of terrorism experienced in Paris causes actual physical harm, as we can all witness on the 24-hour news cycle. However, although one form of terrorism is kinetic and the other is not, they both are identical in one aspect: the ability to prevent every form of both malicious acts is unattainable. While the goal is lofty, it is impractical to believe security professionals are capable of thwarting every act of terrorism, no matter the form it takes.
We need to recognize the goal of terrorism is to scare people. However, by giving in to the terror by enacting laws and policies designed to drastically modify the American way of life, we allow the terrorists to win. This is what they want to happen – they want us to change. If we become more personally vigilant through education, rather than expecting our government to save us from future cowardly acts of murder, we win.
Do not let the media sway us from the truth: terrorism will continue no matter the loose or strict our laws we pass. Whether America – or other countries throughout the world – take additional steps towards the inevitable police state or not, there will be future acts of terrorism. They will happen in the United States or somewhere else in the world. It is inevitable. Why?
We cannot stop every act of terrorism. Nobody can. It is an impossible task, and something we should not expect of law enforcement and our intelligence agencies. Hindsight is absolutely 20/20, so it is easy to look back on an incident and theorize how it could have been prevented. In some cases that may be true, but mostly it is a false assumption.
The best thing we can do now is to continue living our lives as we always have – be the consummate American, but grow and learn from these terrorists. As in cyber security, our goal in fighting terrorism is to assume compromise but minimize the damage the malicious actors can inflict. There is a delicate balance between security and liberty; we should err on the side of liberty otherwise we lose and allow the terrorists to dictate the message.
That can never happen. We can, and will, overcome these trying times thanks to our resilience, so long as we keep our eye on what is important.
A Takfiri terrorist group, who infiltrated computers belonging to the American military and Navy and State Department staff, has released names, home addresses and other sensitive details of hundreds of US military and embassy staff threatening to kill them soon.
The group has also called on its “brothers in America” to carry out lone wolf attacks against those mentioned on the lists.
The lists were released on a Twitter account that is affiliated with Abu Hussain al-Britani (Junaid Hussain), a British national who is suspected of leading a team of hackers that carries out cyber attacks for the ISIL.
“They have us on their ‘hit list’, and we have them on ours too…,” he said in one of his Tweets.
Al-Britani, 21, is believed to be the third person on the Pentagon’s kill list of key ISIL figures, only preceded by Jihadi John and the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that it is investigating the matter but downplayed the claims made by the Daesh, saying that the data is retrieved from social media and other public sources.
This is the second time the Daesh is making claims about using cyber warfare against Washington. Last March, the terrorist group released another batch of “hacked” personal details concerning 100 US military members.
At the time, a spokesperson for the US Marine Corps said in a statement that the Navy and Marine personnel affected by the purported attack are being notified by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
In a 31-point list India and the UAE issued outlining a plan to counter terrorists in the region, the two countries said they would, “promote cooperation in cybersecurity, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony.”
Authorities have been concerned about ISIS’s savvy use of social media services and online communications channels to recruit foreigners.
Hacking groups claiming affiliation with ISIS have also taken credit for a growing number of hacks across Europe and the U.S. in recent months.
To help combat this threat, the U.S. negotiated new deals with India and the Gulf states in recent months. The agreements pledge to share more data on cybersecurity threats in the region and to swap tactics on pursuing terrorists online.
Last week, top U.S. officials hosted an Indian delegation to discuss combating cyber crime.
Apparently, looks can kill. In a very real story that we assure you did not originate from The Onion, a terrorist from ISIS recently took a selfie of himself and posted it online.
Shortly thereafter, U.S. Intelligence, which heavily monitors social media accounts from ISIS members and supporters, managed to pinpoint an ISIS headquarters building in Syria by using the selfie photo as a reference point.
According to Air Force General Hawk Carlisle (which is a perfect name for an Air Force General we must say), airmen from Hurlburt Field, Florida in the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group were the first to pick up on the photo.
“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command,”Carlisle said in an interview with Defense Tech. “And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL. And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”
I genuinely wonder is this article is true or if it is mere US military propaganda.
“ISIS [also known as Islamic State] came onto the scene very quickly, but they already have arguably the best cyber offensive capability of any extremist movement out there, and it’s still early days,” Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure said.
“We still haven’t seen real physical damage being done by any extremist group, and it’s probably going to take a while until we see it. But these guys are the first ones that actually have some existing hackers who have joined them and moved in from the West,” Hypponen told the AusCERT Information Security Conference on Australia’s Gold Coast in his keynote address on Friday morning.
“It’s not yet really a big problem, but obviously this isn’t getting better, this is getting worse,” he said.
One such hacker is Abu Hussain Al Britani, a British citizen that F-Secure had been tracking as a traditional hacker three years ago. They lost track of him two years ago, but found him again last summer in Syria.
Have you heard about the Christian terrorist Robert Doggart, who was plotting a violent attack against a Muslim-American community in New York state? Probably not, because as opposed to when U.S. law enforcement officials arrest a Muslim for planning a violent assault, they didn’t send out a press release or hold a press conference publicizing Doggart’s arrest.
So let me tell you about Doggart and his deadly plan to use guns and even a machete to attack American Muslims in upstate New York. Doggart, a 63-year-old Tennessee resident, is an ordained Christian minister in the Christian National Church. In 2014, he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as an independent, espousing far right-wing views.
But don’t dismiss Doggart as some crazed wingnut howling at the moon. He served in the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, worked for 40 years in the electrical generation business, has a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from La Salle University, and claimed he had nine “committed” men working with him to carry out this attack.
Doggart may be highly educated and very intelligent but he is also extremely dangerous:
One big reason for the lack of media coverage was that neither the FBI nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office put out a press release about Doggart’s arrest. In contrast, the FBI office in Knoxville, the one that handled this investigation, has posted press releases for numerous other recent arrests, such as for drug crimes and robbery charges. (My calls to the FBI about this issue have not been returned.)
However, when a Muslim is arrested in a sting-type operation, as we saw recently in Brooklyn, the FBI touts that arrest to the media with a detailed press release. We have also seen U.S. attorneys hold press conferences to announce the arrest of Muslims, as we witnessed recently with the six Minnesota men charged withplanning to join ISIS. But not here.
In fact, this incident would have likely been ignored but for the local Islamberg community reaching out to the media. They even posted a powerful photograph on social media of the children of the town sitting under a big banner that asked: “Why do you want to kill us Robert Doggart?”
But here’s the reality: This will likely not be the last time we hear about a planned attack on Muslim Americans by right-wing groups. Alarmingly, a recent poll found 55 percent of Americans hold anti-Muslim views, the highest numbers ever recorded.
It is time America started giving Muslims the same type of comfort everyone else in America receives. America keeps repeating this idiotic cycle of hatred before it finally realizes the errors of its ways. If you stop to take a look you will realize how despicable America has been towards people, especially when you consider why America was founded in the first place. It all started with American slavery, then it was women’s suffrage, then it was African American civil rights, we are in the middle of the gay rights movement, and the next fight will surely Muslim civil rights. This is merely a quick summary so I am leaving out a few other movements, but the point remains the same.
Why does America always have to single out a specific group and attack them? Why is it so difficult for us to remember our past and learn from those mistakes, and realize we cannot keep repeating the same cycle of hatred over and over?
But how serious of an online threat is ISIS and those who claim to work with or for the Islamic State? Could these groups unleash cyber terrorism and successfully bring down critical infrastructure in the U.S. and/or around the world? Where do these cyberthreats rank, if we compare them to other cyberattacks from cyber criminals or cyberattacks originating from Russia or China?
There is no doubt that ISIS has learned to use the Internet successfully to attract new recruits through the use of social media. Stories of men and women who travel to the Middle East from all over the world has been major topic of global discussion in 2014 and 2015.
So could more dangerous cyberterrorism be coming from the self-proclaimed “cyber caliphate?”
“It’s only really a matter of time till we start seeing terrorist organizations using cyberattack techniques in a more expanded way,” said John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator at the Department of Homeland Security.
“The concern is that as an organization like ISIS acquires more resources financially they will be able to hire the talent they need or outsource to criminal organizations,” Cohen added. “I think they’re probably moving in that direction anyway.”
Military officials agree. NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers this week called the pending shift “a great concern and something that we pay lots of attention to.”
“At what point do they decide they need to move from viewing the Internet as a source of recruitment … [to] viewing it as a potential weapon system?” Rogers asked.
Startup costs for a cyber attack organization are nominal when compared to obtaining actual physical, kinetic attack weapons. ISIS will likely end up recruiting some would-be jihadists with decent cyber attack skillsets. American industry better to be prepared for such cyber terrorism ahead of time.
To get their point across ISIS would probably target something high profile, like a U.S. government web site or a much more important US commercial internet business. I am not saying ISIS will have the means to carry out a successful cyber attack operation, but they will end up launching an attack aimed at the US at some point in the future.