Samata Ullah, a resident of Cardiff, the capital of Wales, was arrested in early 2016 for the possession and distribution of ISIS propaganda material.
Local police discovered various hidden storage of ISIS propaganda material in devices including his USB sticks disguised as cufflinks. During a raid of his home located in Cardiff, local police found an additional eight terabytes of data from Ullah’s computer that contained massive amounts of ISIS propaganda material and inappropriate content related to the terrorist organization.
Investigators further discovered that Ullah produced and distributed instructional videos for members of other terrorist organizations to provide various methods of encrypting online terrorist material. The instructional videos published by Ullah are said to have aided more terrorists in the region and globally to hide sensitive illegal and propaganda material from the authorities.
Ullah was proven guilty of his charges in late 2016 and was sentenced on May 2 to eight years in prison.
S015 Counter-Terrorism Command for London & International Operations Commander Dean Haydon explained that the danger and potential impact of Ullah’s operations shouldn’t be underestimated solely because they were carried out in the virtual world. Haydon further emphasized that Ullah’s distribution of propaganda throughout the dark web may have increased ISIS support in the region.
“Just because Ullah’s activity was in the virtual world we never underestimated how dangerous his activity was. He sat in his bedroom in Wales and created online content with the sole intention of aiding people who wanted to actively support ISIS and avoid getting caught by the authorities,” said Haydon.
Another investigator in the case of Ullah, Sue Hemming, member of the Crown Prosecution Service’s counter terrorism division, said:
“Ullah wrongly assumed he could hide behind the perceived anonymity of the online world to help the planning of terrorist attacks. However, prosecutors worked with police to build a strong case that left Ullah with little option but to admit his offending.”
French Government Explains ISIS is Difficult to Stop Because of Dark Web
As DeepDotWeb reported on February 16, French government officials and security agents including Guillaume Poupard, head of the French national security service the Agence Nationale de la Sécurité des Systèmes D’information (ANSSI) explained that ISIS and other terrorist groups have become more difficult to stop due to the emergence of the Dark Web and anonymous networks such as Tor.
Expressing his concerns over the national security of France and increasing terrorism activities in the country, Poupard said:
“Digital attacks with major impacts are unlikely in the short term. However, that could change very fast. Our real fear, and we may already be there, is that they will use mercenaries, people who will do anything for money. The skills are complex, though not at the level of a nuclear weapon. With a few dozen people, a little money, but not that much, you can be effective.”
The UK and France’s focus on the crackdown of dark web criminals and extensive investigation on propaganda distributors on anonymous networks relates to Europol’s union-wide warning against potential usage of dark web and anonymous communication networks by terrorists.
In particular, Europol director Rob Wainwright explained that it has become easier for ISIS or other terrorist organizations to finance and support their members with weapons due to the existence of the dark web.
“Even if they don’t have access to the capabilities, they can simply buy it on the darknet (a hidden internet realm of encrypted websites), where there is an enormous trade in cyber criminal technology. That said, attacking the critical national infrastructures at least of most countries is… not easily done, and it’s something that is not as immediate and showy as firing automatic weapons in a theatre or in public,” Wainwright said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.