A high-tech guide may seem loosely connected to the bloody march of the Islamic State, but these documents plainly illustrate the mysterious path from an angry tweet to a real-life atrocity
On the face of it, document-sharing sites are apparently innocuous pages which allows users to publish lengthy pieces of writing online for free.
But among the reviews of classic cars, art exhibitions and banal gibberish lurks something far more sinister.
A full-scale terrorism ‘how-to’ guide, compiled by ISIS, is hidden on one website.
It is already known that terrorists have used this page to blog and chatter.
But we can reveal that over the past few years, Islamic State experts are assembling an exhaustive – and constantly updated – dossier of information for undercover jihadis based in the West.
The Mirror Online can reveal the secrets of this cache which is helping British ‘sleeper cells’ stay one step ahead of the intelligence services.
Astonishingly, much of this dangerous material is hidden in plain sight, available to anyone who knows where to look.
ISIS identifies potential sympathisers, then simply points them in the right direction.
Mirror Online was alerted to the files by a new splinter cell of notorious hacktivist group Anonymous, called Global Vigilance.
Our source was able to pinpoint the location of the cache after eight months of monitoring the digital movements of prominent ISIS figures.
Who is behind the ISIS terror library?
At first glance, the documents look like dry, technical tracts, but in fact they reveal tactics of vital importance to any terrorist or ISIS sympathiser living undercover in the UK.
Crucially, the expertise they impart can – and very likely already have – helped build the vast body count on which the Islamic State is founded.
The files are written in Arabic by a variety of authors, many of whom refer to themselves as “technical brothers”.
The language is so simple that it is easily translated by running it through free software.
This information will be familiar to computer experts, but is often very difficult to understand and rarely collected in the same place.
The terror library contains simple step-by-step guides which show extremists how to erase their digital footprint – the first crucial skill in a movement which uses the internet to radicalise recruits.
“With the rapid development of ‘information jihad’ and an increase in the amount of official and unofficial material produced by jihadi organisations, many security holes have appeared which benefit the enemy,” one ISIS technical expert wrote in the documents.
How ISIS ‘sleeper cells’ remain undetected in the West
An ISIS Defector speaks about Jihadi JohnISIS supporters have many ways to hide their identities
ISIS supporters are first shown how to mask the unique IP address used to connect to the internet – an easy way of tracing the user of a computer.
They are also shown how to disable the tracking software built into most modern smartphones.
Undercover jihadis are encouraged to use super-secure communications techniques which encrypt messages so they cannot be intercepted – and are told exactly how to do so with mapped-out routes similar to those you may see in books such as The Internet for Dummies.
If used correctly, the terror manual’s instructions boast, “it would be impossible for hackers to access important information on the Muslim brothers”.
An increasingly key weapon here is software which allows terrorists to access a lawless underbelly of the internet called the ‘Dark Web’.
Terrorists now lurk here out of sight, using secret messaging services to plot atrocities and access information including bomb-making guides.
Extremists are also offering supporters the chance to “fund the jihad anonymously” using virtual currencies.
One document also describes how to start an account with a Russian social network, which can be used to contact ISIS central command in the Middle East. This network is freely available and does not require ‘Dark Net’ expertise for access.
This social network is known to be popular among extremists is because it remains one of the few major services which is not owned and operated from America, which convinces terrorists that it is less vulnerable to snooping by Western intelligence agenices.
How to beat the spies
ISIS supporters warn some clocks could actually be surveillance devices
One document warns extremists of the spy devices they should look out for, ranging from cameras hidden inside clocks to tiny bugs which can which be drilled into walls.
“The devices are available to enemies of religion and constitute a danger to the brothers – especially prisoners,” the unnamed author wrote.
The author then gives advice on how to “jam” wi-fi signals – which many surveillance devices now use to transmit audio or video.
Other guides detail how to scrub information linked to digital devices which has the potential to unmask ISIS operations.
You and I can be traced by security services very simply via the gadgets we use every day. Mobile phones, computers and digital cameras all record details of how and where they have been used, including times, dates and even locations.
This information known as metadata – a word which was almost unknown before the Snowden revelations.
If left untouched, these details could give security services vital clues in tracking down ISIS operatives at home and abroad.
Jihadis commonly erase metadata from the files they publish particularly in videos of hostages, because it could allow their enemies to launch rescue attempts.
All the images and files uploaded to document-sharing sites
Sounds dry? This simple technique has many all-too lethal examples.
Intelligence agencies tracking the executioner known as ‘Jihadi John’ desperately analysed the beheading videos for any hint of metadata which would help identify the killer and reveal his location.
But the videos are scrubbed clean.
How much more dangerous information is out there?
This details the communications apps which ISIS supporters are warned to steer clear of
Mirror Online has already analysed hundreds of pages of in-depth technology lessons – but there are hundreds of gigabytes more.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” said a spokesman for Global Vigilance.
“The training material brings home the level of sophistication they possess.”
Despite their advanced encryption techniques the extremists cannot become totally invisible.
The need to recruit makes them vulnerable.
An security source said: “Terrorists have always found ways to hide their communications and technology offers a new option.
“If you look at open websites and social media , this stuff [terror training information] is widely available and it’s being read and propagated online all the time.
“That spread of information is a new challenge to keep up with.
“However, it’s worth saying that terrorists have always tried to communicate secretly. For example, those in Afghanistan, often resorted to hand written messages, which were difficult to intercept.”
To report online terrorism material visit www.gov.uk/report-terrorism