IS Fol­low­ers App-ro­pri­ate Snow­den Trick

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Rahul.Tri­pathi @times­group.com

New Delhi: A group of ter­ror­ist sus­pects in In­dia said to be in­spired by Is­lamic State wanted to em­u­late US whistle­blower Ed­ward Snow­den and use en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool Sig­nal to chat among them­selves and their han­dlers over­seas, it was re­vealed in in­ter­ro­ga­tion by the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA). Snow­den, who is known to have used en­crypted com­mu­ni­ca­tion reg­u­larly, re­lied on the Sig­nal app to com­mu­ni­cate with his con­tacts af­ter he left the US with clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion re­lated to global sur­veil­lance pro­grammes of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency.

NIA, which is prob­ing the spread of IS in In­dia, has found that the Syria-based han­dlers used sim­i­lar en­cryp­tion tech­nol­ogy to com­mu­ni­cate, of­fi­cials said. One IS mem­ber in In­dia, Abu Anas, was even given the task of de­vel­op­ing a se­cret com­mu­ni­ca­tion ap­pli­ca­tion on the lines of Sig­nal, they said.

Anas, who holds a master’s de­gree in com­puter ap­pli­ca­tion, was ar­rested in Hy­der­abad in Jan­uary. “I had dis­cov­ered Sig­nal through open source since the other chat­ting ap­pli­ca­tions like What­sApp, Face­book and In­sta­gram were eas­ily be­ing mon­i­tored by se­cu­rity agen­cies. Sig­nal till to­day is not un­der the mon­i­tor­ing purview of the se­cu­rity agen­cies,” Anas told the in­ter­roga­tors, an of­fi­cial said.

It should be noted that Sig­nal is avail­able for free down­load on app stores and that the lat­est ver­sion of What­sApp en­crypts con­ver­sa­tions. The IS group, which had other com­puter ex­perts, was given the re­spon­si­bil­ity by their Mum­bai-based chief Mud­ab­bir Shaikh to de­velop “Java soft­ware for An­droid mo­biles se­cu­rity where they can talk se­cretly”, the of­fi­cial said.

Anas, who is be­lieved to head the group ac­cord­ing to the NIA, also planned to join IS in Syria and had ap­plied for a tourist visa for Ja­pan, from where he wanted to fly to Turkey. “He was of the view that visa pro­cess­ing is eas­ier in Ja­pan,” said an of­fi­cial who ques­tioned Anas.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions have so far re­vealed that for­mer In­dian Mu­jahideen com­man­der Shafi Ar­mar, who hails from Bhatkal in Kar­nataka and left the coun­try in 2008, is the brains be­hind set­ting up the IS mod­ule in In­dia. He is be­lieved to be op­er­at­ing from Syria and has pledged his al­le­giance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi.

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