The virtual “Caliphate” strikes back? Mapping the Islamic State’s information ecosystem on the surface web

This study maps the surface web information ecosystem exploited by the Islamic State (IS) and its followers between December 2020 and June 2021. Open-source intelligence investigation allowed a massive online presence of Daesh, manifested by hundreds of communication channels, to be detected. Its propaganda dissemination was founded mainly on one “central” Arabic domain, linked to a constellation of auxiliary standalone websites, blogs, encrypted messaging apps, as well as file-sharing and streaming services. Aside from it, the Islamic State utilised other surface web environments, including numerous Internet Archive profiles and a network of communication channels established by Afaaq Electronic Foundation. This study also shows that URLs banned by law enforcement in 2020 and 2021 were usually quickly restored by the IS’s media offices.

Tags: Daesh, Islamic State