At least one Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) recruiter has taken to publishing photos of his cat with explosives to attract young people to the cause of jihad.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) December 20, 2015
Omar Hussein, who used to be a security guard at a market in Buckinghamshire, resides in Syria. He recruits youngsters with the encrypted Telegram messaging app, using his gray cat Lucy as a prop.
“Come closer and I’ll blow the entire house down!” he wrote under the picture of Lucy with the explosive belt.
He also blogs about his life with the Islamic State and offers advice for anyone who wishes to join the barbaric terrorist group. The Daily Mail reported that the article, “Hating the Kuffar,” encouraged people to hate non-Muslims, even if they are “kind”:
“Yes, this is in our religion; loving the Muslims and hating the kuffār. Islam is not a religion of peace (alone), it’s a religion of peace, war, love and hate,” he writes.
“So the ‘kind’ neighbour, the colleague at work, your boss, your son’s school teacher, the postman, the bus driver, the cashier at the supermarket, that random woman who takes her dog out for a walk every morning to the park … all such people must be hated.
“Their profession or their status in society has no role to play nor does it effect [sic] anything.
“A kāfir is a kāfir, period.”
Cats are a common theme among the Islamic State accounts. In June 2014, “The Islamic State of Cat” appeared on Twitter. The account, now suspended, displayed pictures of cats with the jihadists.
More of the "Islamic State mujahideen love cats" messaging: pic.twitter.com/3HajEwaHtr
— Aymenn J Al-Tamimi (@ajaltamimi) July 10, 2014
In November, Belgians flooded the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag with cat pictures to confuse Islamic State terrorists. The country was on the third day of high terrorism alert when the police asked people “not to disclose details about police activity on social media.”
— Jeroen Flamman (@jflamman) November 22, 2015
The Islamic State switched to Telegram after Twitter targeted its accounts for suspension. Telegram offers its member a secure way to message friends. Brothers Pavel and Nicolai Durov, who founded Russia’s social media network VKontakte, developed Telegram in 2013. They wanted a way to “communicate with friends and colleagues without interference from the Kremlin.”
Pavel admitted terrorists used his program but also stated that “privacy takes precedent over preventing terrorism.”
“Privacy is ultimately more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism,” he said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. “If you look at ISIS, yes, there’s a war going on in the Middle East. Ultimately, ISIS will find a way to communicate with its cells, and if any means doesn’t feel secure to them, they’ll [find something else]. We shouldn’t feel guilty about it. We’re still doing the right thing, protecting our users’ privacy.”
After the Paris attacks, Telegram announced they blocked at least 78 Islamic State accounts in twelve languages.
“We were disturbed to learn that Telegram’s public channels were being used by ISIS to spread their propaganda,” stated the company. “As a result, this week alone we blocked 78 ISIS-related channels across 12 languages.”