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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." According to the article, 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, considerable recruitment efforts to retain "skilled hackers_" to build this army have been made by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. 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\." According to the report, the terrorist groups confidently state that "_it is only a matter of time before their plan becomes a reality_, "according to the report. According to the article, well-known British hacker and jihadist Junaid Hussain – jailed in 2012 for hacking into former Prime Minister Tony Blair's Gmail account – is suspected of 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 organizations, 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.
Written by Bryon Turcotte / September 12, 2014