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Now On Android: IS Releases Russian Propaganda App

  • Joanna Paraszczuk

A splash screen for the app refers to "Vilayat Kavkaz," the name IS has given to its so-called province in the North Caucasus even though the extremist group do not control any territory in the Russian Federation.

A splash screen for the app refers to "Vilayat Kavkaz," the name IS has given to its so-called province in the North Caucasus even though the extremist group do not control any territory in the Russian Federation.

Islamic State (IS) militants from the extremist group's Russian-speaking faction have released a propaganda app for Google's popular Android platform.

The app, called Caucas, is not available through the Google Play Store, where Android users obtain mainstream apps. Instead, it was made available for download on August 18 via links posted on sites such as archive.org, a U.S.-based digital archive that IS often uses to post videos. The links were shared via the Sahih Media page on VKontakte.

What's In The App?

The app provides several types of IS propaganda in Russian. The first is a daily roundup of IS "news" from across IS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq (left). The roundup for August 18 included reports of clashes between IS and various groups in Aleppo Province in Syria and in the Anbar and Salahuddin provinces in Iraq.

The Caucas app also replicates some of the material on the Sahihmedia website and includes Russian-subtitled IS videos such as speeches by various IS leaders like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (below left).

Who Created The App?

The app appears to have been created by IS supporters in the North Caucasus rather than in Syria or Iraq.

The group behind the app is the newly formed Sahih Media rather than Furat Media, the group that has declared itself to be IS's official Russian-language media outlet.​

And a splash screen for the app refers to "Vilayat Kavkaz," the name IS has given to its so-called province in the North Caucasus even though the extremist group does not control any territory in the Russian Federation.

However, the Caucas app and Sahih Media's website make extensive use of Furat Media-branded material, indicating that the purpose of the app is a vehicle to spread existing IS propaganda among supporters in the North Caucasus.

Why Make An App?

While it is not very sophisticated, the Caucas IS app can be downloaded and used by anyone with an Android smartphone or tablet, making it easy for IS supporters with such technology to keep current with IS reports and videos.

By accessing propaganda this way, IS supporters in the North Caucasus have an alternative to using social networks like VKontakte, where IS accounts are often banned and where pro-IS users often express concern that they are being monitored by Russian security services.

The app could also be useful for Russian-speaking militants inside IS territory, who also rely on social media to obtain news of IS's military activities in areas outside their immediate location.

Are Apps The Future For IS Propaganda?

As social-media networks increasingly crack down on IS propaganda accounts, the extremist group could produce more apps to allow it to continue spreading its violent ideology.

It is relatively simple to create an app on Android, with sites like AppGeyser allowing users to design and build apps without even knowing how to code.

And IS propagandists can easily distribute the apps through preexisting channels on social media.

The Caucas app is not the first IS Android app, though it is the first in Russian.

Earlier this month, IS supporters distributed a link to an Android app they claimed allowed users to access IS reports and publications.

Activist Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi of the Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently anti-IS group posted an image of the app's splash screen on Twitter on August 3.

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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