A site billed as the pro-Islamic State alternative to Facebook has been taken offline by its creators.
The 5elefabook website, whose name comes from the Arabic word for "caliphate," replaced its front page on March 9 with a message announcing a "temporary shutdown in order to protect the info and details of it's (sic) members and their safety."
The individuals or group behind 5elafabook also created a Twitter account, which was suspended on March 10. The site had created something of a buzz on Twitter, where some users referred to it as a "Salafi crowdsourced social site."
The website is listed as having been registered with the Arizona-based GoDaddy Internet domain registrar and web-hosting company. The contact person for the site is listed on GoDaddy as "Abu Musab" and the country in which he is based as Egypt. However, somewhat confusingly the address given by "Abu Musab" is listed as "Islamic State Mosul."
An unnamed individual affiliated with the website told the Al-Arabiya news outlet that 5elefabook is not actually affiliated with the Islamic State group. However, those behind the site are loyal to the idea of an Islamic state, the individual said.
A message displayed on the site on March 10 also claimed that 5elafabook is "an independent site and is not sponsored by the Islamic state."
According to Al-Arabiya, unlike Facebook, whose members are actively encouraged to post pictures of themselves, members of "caliphatebook" were strictly forbidden from sharing their photographs, or from sharing personal information.
The site's log in page has now been replaced by a message explaining that 5elafabook's purpose "was to clarify to the whole world that we do not only carry guns and live in caves as they imagine."
While the site insists that its members "do not live to kill and spell (sic) blood as the media portrays us," 5elefabook does admit it has ambitions of global domination.
["We] will rule the whole world by Allah's permission...we love to die as much as you love to live and we promise to fight until the last one of us," the message explains.
Initially, the website's main page design featured a map of the world with the Arabic text of the shahada (the Islamic creed) and the Seal of Muhammad -- both features of the Islamic State's black flag -- inscribed on each continent, suggesting a global takeover by the Islamic State group, or those affiliated with it.
While 5elefabook appears to be the first attempt to create a dedicated pro-Islamic State social network, there are several websites linked to the militant group. Russian-speaking Islamic State militants close to the group's military commander in Syria, Umar Shishani, maintain a website, FiSyria, that posts news and videos relating to the Islamic State group and to militant Islam in general. Records show that the FiSyria website is hosted by a company based in Istanbul.
The Islamic State group previously maintained an official Russian-language site, H-Center, which posted official Russian translations of Islamic State propaganda material and was apparently affiliated with the militant group's media wing, Al-Hayat. However, that site was taken offline late last year. Records show that the domain is currently registered to the name of Fatima Ummhamza who is based in Oleksandriya, Ukraine.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk