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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Encryption Software for Islamists

Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda have just developed a new kind of software that allows them to encrypt communications in Arabic.

Available since January on secret forums dedicated to pro-Al Qaeda ideology, a software program dubbed “Secrets of the Mujahideen” works with highly sophisticated encryption.

It was developed by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). one of the communication units which gravitate around Al Qaeda and specialize in “electronic jihad,” Resulting from from “several years of work” to test its effectiveness, the program was designed by its inventors to serve as “an electronic weapon capable of guaranteeing the security of members who communicate, and to protect secrets of the Mujahideen,” according to the software’s literature.

The program was tailor-made for Iraqi groups and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, an extremist Algerian movement known by its French initials of GSPC.

According to the French firm Terrorisc headed by Anne Giudicelli, which obtained and tested the program, the software uses five of the best existing encryption algorithms, including the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that has been championed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2001 as the most reliable symmetric key encryption software on the market.

“Secrets of the Mujahideen” is based on a hybrid system that combines symmetric encryption (256 bytes) and the asymmetric type (2084 bytes) with a double key function, private and public (RSA algorithm) to maximise the cut-off of communications between the sender and recipient. And an ultimate advantage for clandestine users is that the “portable” software can be installed on a USB key and used on any computer in an Internet café without leaving the least trace. Warned of its existence by Jim Melnick, director of an affiliate of VeriSign, American intelligence is now trying to crack the “jihad software,” portrayed by experts as a “technological feat.”

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