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21 January 2015

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LeaNder

Patrick, I experienced a lot of resistance reading this text. At one point I wondered if it had to do with the fact that you seem to be writing a suspense tale, where no doubt you have to draw in your readers, in a very different way, then you have to write if you are a reporter.

Then I wondered if you are simply trying to uphold your possible ISIS-AlQuaeda connection.

There was one point that raised my interest, since it was something that made me wonder as a sideline in trying to find out, why I have more problems with this ASUS laptop, then I ever, ever noticed before. And I am no novice. But for the first time in my life I have serious complaints about the apparent compilation of the larger system setup. Apparently Windows has troubles with recognizing the registered API or interfaces of the firm. It runs in circles. While acknowledging funnily enough, that I basically trust them.

At one point I stumbled across something peculiar. A search for something that raised my interest in the larger attempts to find out what exactly is happening, led me to a site where I was confronted with "on the surface" with something seemingly suggestive of "Arab interests", the information was buried somewhere behind that "front". There was much too much to follow it closely.

I was a bit puzzled about that fact. But strictly I wondered if they had in fact discovered something about our new IT security industry, I paid no interest to, matters are complex. Or in fact Arabic interest circles.

Concerning Belgium:

Verviers has a derelict charm, reminiscent of it's earlier wealth as a central cog in the textile industry. Molenbeek is slightly North of the part of Belgium that I know. A friend grew up there. Of the Beligium town you keep out of your tale as important: Charleroi, I mainly know the "Église romane"...

How many cities or suburbs do you think exist in Belgium or in France (Germany) for that matter, that could attract emigrants for the same reason, as e.g. artists. In search of cheap rent?

I have mainly followed your articles concerning this case. But at one point I took a look at, maybe a Guardian article. In any case that would fit.

Not sure, if I finished reading it. But among other things they dealt with Coulibaly's specific prison. Even had a video on that. All I remember beyond that, is the debates and "administrative necessities" or tools suggested in for being able to more easily administer it. ... At which point I stopped reading. But no doubt the prison itself may be interesting.

Patrick Bahzad

Thx for your input Leander. This last bit was the most tricky one, as we're dealing with events that are basically unfolding as we speak, while at the same time there are connections between the main players that go back for years in some cases.
Also, there's only so much "open source" info about the ongoing investigation, which is why the line has to be drawn here.
I also had to recapitulate some of the events and aspects already covered in previous parts, as not everybody might be such an good reader and have such as good memory as you ;-)
Also I don't want to be affirmative about the ISIS connection so I might add a question mark somewhere in there, because I'm definitely not keen on any kind of conspiracy theory, even a basic one such as this.
I might edit this version a little, but I wanted to get it out as quickly as possible ...
BTW, I would be interested in knowing more about the IT problems you encountered while doing your research, I didn't quite get that bit !

LeaNder

"BTW, I would be interested in knowing more about the IT problems"

I can imagine you are. Unfortunately my story would need to contain a series of events that did not contain IT evidence. But other peculiarities and odd coincidence, I never once experienced in my close to 65 years of life. Or that seemed and some still seem to feel peculiar in hindsight. Beyond pure IT forensics and questions..

I have not ever been politically active, but yes, I am interested in people and basically an observer in that context. The hyper-suspicious in the public mind: loner. That's why your reports drew my attention. You deal with people, and I somewhat hate to judge based, maybe, on my religion, although I hardly know much about it.

I had a rather crazy teacher in grade school, seriously, and later got my first two-week expulsion from school because I questioned my priest's knowledge of the architecture of Romanesque churches. And basically did not learn much about my church after that. My ethics are inspired by my secular mother. ...


Walrus

What I wonder is if there exits a deep network of Islamist "Sayanim" (Hebrew: helpers).

I also wonder where the money for these operations came from? I suspect that Black market Kalashnikovs and RPGs would not be cheap in Western Europe.

Patrick Bahzad

Yes There is a deep Network although network sounds very formal ... Remember they want to keep it as low profile as possible ... Low tech, high concept ... Or as AQAP theorists said "no organisation, just a system" ... But their number shouldn't be overestimated, let's not get paranoid yet ;-)

LeaNder

Sorry, Patrick, for cluttering your thread with another series of meditations above.

*********
Shortly about the "superficially Arab" website, or why I for loss of a better term called it "front".

It was one of very, very few links that turned up in Google of whatever item had caught my attention on the system. Maybe it was even the only link.

I write front, because it could be used as a way to go somewhere else. I searched for system specifics and ended on a simple clutter of ads. I don't pay attention to ads very much. Thus I cannot tell, apart from the fact that the text was in Arabic, what products were offered. Movies, soap, ... you know.

I didn't click on any of the ads, to see where it would lead me. I did not look up who registered the site.

All I did was use the site's search with the system files name. The result was a link to somewhere else, which was indeed helpful.

Which left me with the overall impression it was simply some type of entrance into the deeper/hidden web that search tools usually don't bring up.

Ages ago I had a specific search tool for this. Fact is I only seem to need it when I am getting too interested in what is going on my system, in other words when searches turn up empty, Mark Russinovich's tools and his and his comrades in IT arms and their books leave me alone on issues.

********

In the post 911 universe I stumbled across early Cyber war threat scenarios. The pictures found by police looking for deleted files, reminded me of something. Somewhere it was suggested that "the bad guys" could hide text and messages in image files.

Have they taken the thread scenario advise I wondered. Because strictly the cyber war scene at that point seemed to be like anyone else assessing danger from the ME.

http://rt.com/op-edge/224823-cyber-war-obama-speech-leaks/

A couple of years ago I curiously opened one item in my online Spam account. Mainly since it looked like a better trap. Out of curiosity I also opened the word text file attached. Only in the online reader. The web.mails security didn't register anything out of the usual. Neither did my Firewall/Protection software register anything. Only when I looked closer into matters I noticed that the file apparently contained a sophisticated macro routine.

The Twisted Genius

I wish someone would try a more decentralized, localized approach to their internal counterterrorism effort and put the resources into that effort rather than into creating and beefing up national level centers. I'm afraid the lesson learned will be just more mass surveillance as Cameron recently babbled. All that does is bloat the bureaucracy and enrich the contractors. I would think a local police investigative effort that's better resourced, better coordinated and nationally (and internationally) supported would be a better answer to the one off, system rather than organization type attacks that are bound to increase.

The Twisted Genius

Patrick,

And thanks for this series of posts. Very informative.

Patrick Bahzad

there are lots of ways of "smuggling" in malware, or even plain text MSGs, through something that looks very harmless, like a .jpg file for example.
The one thing that could set alarm bells off is the size of the attachment, if there is an obvious discrepancy between the usual size of an attachment like that and the one you receive in your mail box.
hidden text in files exchanged on legal/illegal "peer to peer" sites is a thing of the past now mostly, unless of course, there's no interception of the whole traffic going to a certain account or IP address, in which case you need physical access to the hard-drive or "brute force" entry to the site.

Patrick Bahzad

You're right and that is definitely one way of solving the problem, at least from a preventive intelligence point of view. CT officers in the field have been complaining for a while now about too little being done on the issue of HUMINT in our own backyard, i.e. regarding "homegrown" radicalism.

Patrick Bahzad

I intend on doing a piece sometime soon hopefully, about AQ and ISIS networks recruiting young radicals from western countries, mostly Europe or US. how they get trained on Syria or Iraq, what they're asked to do when they come back and how their clandestine activities are financed, etc. so financial issues will be covered as well, you would be surprized at how simple it is for these organisations to channel even significant amounts of money back into Western countries.

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