Whoops! Report Confirms Al-Qaeda Switched to New Encryption Software Post-Snowden

The Wall Street Journalreports today that a “web intelligence” company called Recorded Future has determined that in the months following the initial NSA revelations by former contractor Edward Snowden, al-Qaeda operatives switched to new encryption software for the first time in seven years.

Since 2007, the main encryption software for al Qaeda was called Asrar al-Mujahideen which means Mujahideen Secrets. Four to six months after the Snowden leaks, three Middle Eastern groups released three significant new tool sets for encryption, against a baseline of basically no new products for seven years, said Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future, which uses large quantities of publicly available online data to predict the timing and targets of future cyberattacks.

“Of course, this could be random, but it seems unlikely,” said Mr. Ahlberg, in an email. “Snowden provided the motivation and his leaks highlighted the means.”

The original Mujahideen Secrets is distributed by the Global Islamic Media Front, a propaganda organization associated with al Qaeda. In September 2013, GIMF released Tashfeer al-Jawwal, a mobile encryption platform, according to the report. In November 2013, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which has broken ties with al Qaeda, released an alternative encryption program called Asrar al-Ghurabaa. Finally, in December 2013, Al-Fajr Technical Committee which is a mainstream al Qaeda organization, released encryption software called Amn al-Mujahid.

So this is just peachy. I’ve always been very, very cautious to not over-emphasize the general scope of the terrorist threat, but this has more to do with stupidly and recklessly helping the ones that are out there, and it appears as if Snowden & Company have done precisely that.

I suspect we’ll be hearing more news along these lines as the months go by and, by the way, Glenn Greenwald plans to dump a significant number of new Snowden files next week to coincide with the release of his NSA book.


Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Salon.com. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.