Following President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that the United States will extend airstrikes on Islamic State (ISIL) targets into Syria, militants from the terrorist organization are reportedly “boasting of its plans to create a sophisticated cyber army“, according to a recent article published on the Daily Mail website. The article indicates that the group is planning on launching “massive hacking attacks” on “banks and governments” throughout the “U.S. and the West.” They hope to accomplish this while operating behind a self-produced “cyber caliphate” which will be protected by encryption software they have also designed, according to the article.
Claims of large recruitment effort to retain “skilled hackers” to build this army have been made by both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, according to the article. Both groups hope to “create a team of jihadist computer experts“, as indicated in the report, who could cause “devastating cyber disruptions to Western institutions.” The terrorist groups are confidently stating that “it is only a matter of time before their plan becomes a reality“, according to the report. Well-known British hacker and jihadist Junaid Hussain – jailed in 2012 for hacking into former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s gmail account – is suspected to be working with this “cyber team“, according to the article. The Daily Mail reports that Hussain “escaped to Syria while on police bail last year” making him a logical suspect for involvement with the group.
The report states that websites of “U.S. government organisations, energy companies, transport systems and banks” would be the possible targets of these cyber attacks. The Middle East Media Research Institute’s executive director Steve Stalinsky – commenting on these jihadist groups and their capabilities – was quoted in the article to say,”They are forward thinking and are experimenting with hacking. In the future, the jihadists’ cyber army’s activities will become a daily reality.” Leveraging their knowledge, understanding and proficiency of advanced technology and social media places the Islamic State “on a scale unprecedented for such rebel groups“, according to the article.