Propaganda and media accounts associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL or ISIS) are now being hosted by a Russian social media platform after the terror group was thrown off U.S. sites such as Twitter, according to a new intelligence report.
At least 18 official ISIL accounts responsible for disseminating the group’s violent propaganda, including two videos of Americans being beheaded, are currently being hosted by theVK website, Russia’s largest social network, according to an intelligence brief released by the SITE Intelligence Group.
VK, which resembles Facebook, has upwards of 250 million subscribers and is known for hosting the social media site of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, along with his brother Tamerlan, executed the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon.
The relocation of ISIL’s official accounts to Russia highlights the challenge governments face in combatting the media-savvy terror group’s online presence. It also raises questions about the Russian government’s ability to stem the growing radicalization among its Muslim population, which has risen exponentially, experts say.
VK has served as the “primary location” for ISIL and its affiliates to disseminate propaganda and various announcements, according to SITE. ISIL planned to release the video of its followers beheading American journalist Steven Sotloff on VK, the intelligence group said in its report. …
“What I think is happening here is that it’s not an official policy [by Russia], but there are folks [in the government] who are generally anti-Western giving these guys some tactical” assistance, said Ilan Berman, a CIA and Pentagon consultant who serves as vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC).