Encrypted Extremism: A Discussion on Islamic State Exploitation of Telegram

 

On June 6th, 2019, the Program on Extremism released its latest report, Encrypted Extremism: Inside the English-Speaking Islamic State Ecosystem on Telegram. The report, authored by Research Fellows Bennett Clifford and Helen Powell, examines 636 pro-Islamic State channels and groups containing English-language content on the encrypted messaging application Telegram, collected between June 2017 and October 2018.

The report reveals key insights to how IS sympathizers build global online networks, disseminate propaganda and guide operations using Telegram's suite of features. Combining quantitative and qualitative data with case studies of notable English-speaking IS supporters' activities on Telegram, this report provides a comprehensive look at IS sympathizer activity on the platform.

To complement the release of this report, the Program on Extremism hosted a panel discussion with the report's authors and Nicholas Rasmussen, Senior Director for National Security and Counterterrorism Programs at the McCain Institute and former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center. The panel, moderated by Program on Extremism Deputy Director Seamus Hughes, discussed the Islamic State's exploitation of Telegram and digital communications tools that offer encryption, and identified ways for the U.S. government and other actors to marginalize extremism online.