The US Air Force bombed an ISIS HeadQuarter after tracking location through the analysis of the imaged posted on social media platforms.
ISIS members make professional use of social media for propaganda and to recruit new sympathizers, but intelligence agencies are trying to exploit every little mistake to track down the terrorist cells.
Air Force General Hawk Carlisle, head of US Air Combat Command, told a conference that analysts at the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group were able to locate a group of ISIS militant by analyzing metadata contained in a selfie snapped and posted online by an ISIS fighter standing outside a command-and-control building in the Middle East.
“The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command,” Carlisle said at the speech, Air Force Times reports. “And in some social media, open forum, bragging about command and control capabilities for Da’esh. And these guys go ‘ah, we got an in.'”
The intelligence analysts succeeded to locate the position of the building based on the metadata contained in the images posted online, and just 22 hours later the discovery of the position the Air Force bombed the area dropping three Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) used in surgical attacks.
“Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours,” declared Carlisle, “It was incredible work, and incredible airmen doing this sort of thing.”
The events demonstrate the importance to monitor online activities of the ISIS militants, last week, US Congress’s House Homeland Security Committee heard that ISIS is overseeing social media platform reaching thousands of sympathizers.
Michael Steinbach, assistant director in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, warned lawmakers there was no way to monitor encrypted online communications among sympathizers of the ISIS, it urges a law to give them more powers.
According to Steinbach, the Bureau admitted its inability to monitor encrypted online conversations, these communications are ordinarily exploited by the ISIS for propaganda and to recruit new militants.
Steinbach reported to the House Homeland Security Committee that encrypted communications allow the establishment of an “afforded a free zone by which to recruit, radicalize, plot and plan.”
Steinbach explained that law enforcement agencies did not know the volume of the hidden online messages.
“We’re past going dark in certain instances. We are dark,” said Steinbach.
The new generation of terrorists has great cyber capabilities, they mastered social media and the intelligence needs the instrument to fight them on the same battlefield, including the Dark Web.