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Islamic extremist's movements were easily trackable down to the building via geotags in his Twitter post

People often are unaware that they're accidentally posting their location on Facebook Inc. (FB) or Twitter Inc.'s (TWTR) social sites.  One would be ISIS jihadist from New Zealand found that out the hard way.

IBRABO, a Canadian open source intelligence research firm, posted details of how a would-be Jihadi calling himself the "Kiwi Jihadi" accidentally revealed his current location and his locations during the past few months of 2014, months he's spent serving the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS), a group behind much of the brutal violence in Syria in Iraq.

Posting to his Twitter account, @M_Taylor_Kiwi, the "Kiwi Jihadi" boasted of his exploits with ISIS.  But he also inadvertently shared months of maps detailing ISIS hideouts he spent time at.  He deleted the Tweets -- more than 40 -- when he grew wise that they were geotagged and might have revealed his location.  But iBrabo had already mapped his movements in glorious detail.

Location 1 -- Kiwi Jihadi
In Oct. the "Kiwi Jihadi" was geotagged in various locations in Kafar Roma, a contested city in Syria.
[Image Source: IBRABO]

Kiwi Jihadi -- loction in Dec.

By Dec. he'd fled to Al Tabaqah, an ISIS stronghold in central Syria. [Image Source: IBRABO]

Kiwi Jihadi -- Oct. thru Dec. path
By following the geotags his path of travel can be precisely pinpointed. [Image Source: IBRABO]
 
The geotag information was so precise that along with cellular service site data, IBRABO was able to track him down to the exact house he was staying in.  The research group writes:

From our own analysis most twitter activity is centered around larger population areas indicating that cellular service is sporadic at best outside of these areas. Examining the numerous tweets that Taylor put out during his time in Al Tabqah we were able to identify one specific house that Taylor predominantly used from the 3rd to the 10th of December 2014 in the south west part of the city (illustrated below).

The jihadi -- whose birth name (based on his Twitter handle) may be M. Taylor -- brags on Dec. 27:

I've abandoned all international laws and only practice Islamic shariah laws!  NZ laws are the worst of time.  Sorry johny, here to stay in IS

(IS stands for Islamic State, what the ISIS jihadi group refers to their Syria and Iraq territory as.)

But in his posts from around the time he also accidentally leaks pictures of his fellow jihadis when posting selfies of himself to Twitter.

Kiwi Jihadi

Following comments from fellow citizens of New Zealand, he realized that he had been sharing his location.  He tried to cover his tracks by deleting all the posts, but by then IBRABO had already finished their research.  They write:

Taylor eager for the fame of being a violent jihadist took to twitter to get attention for his exploits. His statements and twitter missteps have solidified his involvement with ISIS and will provide the evidence should he ever try to return to New Zealand. His ignorance and the ignorance of others has been an advantage to intelligence agencies around the world looking to protect their nations and track the progress of ISIS. Even examining his most recent twitter photo update, Taylor shows again his lack of understanding of technology and intelligence as he broadcast out the facial image of another fighter captured in the background of his photo.

Taylor’s numerous failures demonstrate the opportunities that can be gained through monitoring and tracking extremists via social media and telecommunications. Given his need for attention I’m sure this will not be the last we hear from Kiwi Jihadi. With luck he will fail to read the manual on his next shiny new phone!

If there's one take home message of all of this, it appears that jihadis love Western social as much of the rest of us.  And it also appears they're not overly bright.

Sources: IBRABO, via TweakTown





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