Instead of a smile, a wink or a frown, imagine sending stickers or emojis of an ISIS flag, the beheading of James Foley or a cage on fire, depicting the burning alive of Jordanian pilot, Moaz Al-Kasasbeh.
That’s what the Islamic State is now offering on one of their messenger channels—various downloadable stickers, allowing users to send one another various Jihadi ‘emojis,’ the ideogram characters used in chats and texting.
Last month, The Foreign Desk reported on ISIS’ use of Telegram Messenger, a popular messaging app offering end-to-end encryption and self-destructing messages, in an effort to continue spreading its propaganda online and to deliver its recruitment message.
The Foreign Desk has been shown several of these ISIS-claimed channels on the Telegram Messenger app, including a recently launched English channel providing the latest updates from the Caliphate with English subtitles and a daily audio recording.
ISIS has been posting frequent updates using the app, showing everyday life under the Caliphate, the battles, the martyrs, the implementation of Sharia law – public punishments, burning cigarettes, seizing and destroying alcohol, while at the same time encouraging subscribers to invite friends to join the channel.
Telegram, a multi-platform messaging app that puts emphasis on privacy and security was launched just over two years ago by Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the founders of Russia’s popular social network, VK.
For over a year now, many of the terror organization’s online social media accounts have been removed, and while many new accounts have replaced them, ISIS has constantly been looking to leverage the latest tech advances and social media platform innovations to sustain these pages.
“Currently, Telegram’s channels offer no way in to monitor them, and thus are expected to pose an obstacle to this with regard to them,” according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Also, based on the rate at which new jihadi channels are emerging, and on the large number of members they are attracting, these channels can be expected to become a fertile and secure arena for jihad-related activities.”
Telegram boasts 60 million active monthly users and over 12 billion messages sent daily and differs from other similar messaging apps with cross device synchronization and the ability to transfer large files up to 1.5GB in size.
Terror organizations ISIS and Al Qaeda have created multiple channels and have amassed thousands of followers.
Last month, MEMRI wrote a complaint to Telegram about the existing ISIS channels, to which Telegram responded:
“All Telegram chats and group chats are private territory of their respective participants and we do not process any requests related to them. But sticker sets and bots on Telegram are publically available. If you find sticker sets or bots on Telegram that you think are illegal, please ping us.”
The Foreign Desk has reached out to Telegram for a response regarding the stickers.