How to become a better terrorist, and what is necessary for a successful attack on the West? Researchers at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue think tank have found instructions on such topics across the internet, along with tens of thousands of other documents related to the Islamic State terrorist organization.
Despite the territorial defeat of the Islamists, their digital library seems to be thriving.
Researchers at the institute called the extensive collection of propaganda materials “The Caliphate Cache“. The first clue to the secret library was obtained after the death of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Baghdadi, last autumn, the BBC wrote.
They noticed that social media contributors claiming to belong to IS began publishing posts with a shortened link, which led one researcher to documents and videos in nine languages, revealing the actual size of the “Islamic State Library.”
Now, there are over 90,000 copies of IS documents on several servers. In addition to religious texts and extremist ideology, these are also highly idealized descriptions of what life in an Islamic state looks like. According to the BBC, it is likely that many of the documents were seen by the girls who then went to Syria and Iraq to marry a selected terrorist.
The library also contains specific instructions for killing innocent people, including poisoning them with common over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
“If you want to buy too much aspirin, the pharmacist will ask you questions,” advises one of the documents, which then recommends choosing a different tactic.
The library also allows Islamists from all over the world to learn practical details from past terrorist attacks deemed to be “successful”, such as the one from London in 2005 or Manchester three years ago. For example, one document describes how ten kilograms of explosives were needed for the attack in the London Underground and London’s bus routes.
“There’s everything you need to know to plan and carry out an attack,” said Moustafa Ayad, who discovered the entire collection. “They will teach you how to be a better terrorist.”
However, it is difficult to close the digital library because it is not in one place.
Despite anti-terrorism units in Great Britain and the United States being aware of the library, content for the organization is expanding every month and reportedly visited by about 10,000 unique users, mainly young men from Arab countries.
They can spread terrorist propaganda without major problems, and internet bots do the same. In addition, Islamists target popular accounts on social networks, trying to hack them, so that they can use them to spread their ideas.
So far, for example, they have seized the account of one of the fans of pop star Justin Bieber. In another case, the English rugby team was forced to follow an Islamist account on Twitter, which pretended to be a sports enthusiast.
In the meantime, a new magazine known as Ahul-Taqwa began fighting Islamist propaganda last summer. It looks like a copy of the Dabiq propaganda media outlet that was once used by the Islamic State to attract jihadists from the West. But its content is radically opposed to the ideology promoted by IS, and the magazine shows radicalized Muslims how Islamists have distorted their worldview.
Title image: An Afghan security personnel covers himself with the Islamic State group’s flag after an attack in the city of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. An Islamic State group attack on the prison in eastern Afghanistan holding hundreds of its members raged on Monday after killing people in fighting overnight, a local official said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)