03:49 GMT +306 December 2019
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    Battling ISIL Online, Russian Regulator Finds Elusive Enemy

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    Russia's internet regulator continues fighting ISIL's online propaganda content as it becomes increasingly well-hidden. At the same time, the terrorist group's progressively centralized propaganda appears to be less effective.

    The Islamic State terrorist group has begun recruitment through tourist marketing and is actively taking part in crowdfunding ventures, a report by Russia's communications watchdog Roskomnadzor found, reported Izvestia.

    The regulator found 899 webpages recruiting ISIL members, and 1870 addresses for videos of the "Clashing of Swords" ISIL propaganda film alone. ISIL uses a considerably more sophisticated system for distributing its propaganda than other groups active in Syria, such as al-Qaeda, utilizing cloud storage and generic top-level domains. ISIS also reportedly uses "deep web" services such as Tor which cannot be blocked or shut down conventionally.

    "We are seeing a fall in the number of sites pushing out illegal information, as they are being closed down," Roskomnadzor representative Vadim Ampelonsky told Izvestia.

    One of ISIL's newer Russian-language outlets is the "Furat.Press" newsletter, which appears to be a rebranding of the older FiSyria outlet. The other is "Istok" ("Source") magazine, similar to the English-language publications created by ISIL's al-Hayat Media Group such as Dabiq magazine.

    Unlike the older FiSyria, which created original Russian-language content such as interviews and short films, Furat.Press leans toward translations of already released ISIL videos. FiSyria's content included the opening of a Russian-language school in Raqqa, in which "teachers" showed children as young as seven how to assemble and disassemble AK rifles.

    Other than VK, ISIL is said to actively use crowdfunding resources through cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and money transfer services such as QIWI. A semi-anonymous money transfer service tracked by a mobile phone number, ISIL has reportedly been using QIWI wallets for crowdfunding activities. The company says that it opposes terrorism, extremism and other illegal activities.

    "QIWI takes an active stance in fighting illegal activity and is ready for comprehensive cooperation with law enforcement when corresponding inquiries arrive," the company's public relations director Konstantin Koltsov told Izvestia.

    Roskomnadzor also paid special attention to the "ISIL travel guide" which gives "tourist information" to visiting territories controlled by the terrorist organization, but also gives information on crossing Syrian borders.

    The infamous "travel guide" also criticizes Western interventionism in favor of "jihad and state building," and promises widespread Internet, candy bars and "an exquisite Mediterranean climate" to would-be jihadis.

    Around 2,400 Russian citizens are estimated to have joined ISIS, according to the FSB, although some analysts believe the number to be higher. 4,407 Russian citizens were involved in terrorist activity as of October, according Russia's state financial monitor Rosfinmonitoring. The threat of Russian national ISIL fighters returning has been cited among the reasons for Russia's operation against the terrorist group in Syria.

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    Tags:
    Daesh, regulation, internet, Qiwi, Roskomnadzor, VKontakte, Russia
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