Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVEs) will likely continue to adopt ISIS tactics in future plots and attacks, although direct contact with the terrorist group may be difficult while ISIS looks for new messenger applications to host its content.
The recent London terror attack and arrests of HVEs in the United States demonstrate that violent extremists continue to be inspired by ISIS even after the loss of the caliphate and death of their former leader. In November, the FBI arrested five ISIS supporters in the US.
On November 29, Usman Khan killed two people in a stabbing attack at a conference near the London Bridge. Khan, who was killed at the scene, used two kitchen knives and wore a hoax suicide belt made of duct tape and wires — tactics encouraged by ISIS and employed in the 2017 London Bridge attack. ISIS took credit for the attack, however police are still investigating Khan’s links to terror organizations.
On November 27, a Brooklyn man was arrested for allegedly sharing ISIS bomb-making instructions and calling for attacks in the US. He frequented ISIS chatrooms and urged others to carry out violent jihad.
On November 15, Romeo Langhorne, of Roanoke, Virginia, was arrested for allegedly creating an instructional video on how to make a deadly explosive. He hoped to inform and encourage future attack plots of ISIS supporters in the United States.
Initially, some pro-ISIS media moved to messenger apps — such as TamTam, Riot, and Hoop — but administrators responded with bans to limit the presence. A core group of ISIS supporters continues to look for a stable platform.
After well-known Telegram channels were barred, ISIS accounts appeared on Twitter disguised as official news accounts to share links to new messenger channels.
ISIS-linked news accounts, including Nashir News Agency, Fursan al-Rafa, and Invasion Brigades, were disconnected from their networks of supporters in the Telegram takedown.
ISIS’ Use of Telegram
Telegram is an encrypted instant messaging application touted as being a secure alternative to other, more popular messaging apps. ISIS supporters moved to Telegram after their accounts were removed from Facebook and Twitter in 2014. In November, Europol partnered with Telegram to eliminate pro-ISIS channels and propaganda from the platform, removing more than 26,000 items including accounts, videos, publications, and communication channels.