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I’lam Foundation for Translations Emerges as a Boon to Pro-Islamic State Media Ecosystem
The Islamic State (IS) movement is buttressed by an extensive global network of official media organs, pro-IS propaganda outlets, and individual supporting content creators. Amongst the limitations to growing and sustaining an international network on the scale of the Islamic State are linguistic barriers and the availability of human capital with the technical skills to build and maintain websites to disseminate organizational messaging. Several pro-IS media groups have emerged over the years to translate official propaganda content from the original Arabic into other languages, but in recent months a comparatively expansive multifaceted service and platform has emerged to perform this role wholesale, called I’lam Foundation.
I’lam Foundation dates to at least August 2021, and drew further attention on January 18, 2022, when a prominent pro-IS account revealed that this “supportive media foundation [provides] information on all the new releases about the Islamic State in multiple languages.” The project’s purpose is twofold: to support IS by acting as a repository and distribution channel for propaganda and its translations as well as to collect cryptocurrency funds to support the group’s operations. The site provides access to an archive of the Islamic State’s past print and video media content in various languages and features regularly updated translations of new materials.
There have been a number of pro-IS translation groups throughout the movement’s history, but I’lam has successfully distinguished itself by establishing a currently-active dark web channel — to act as a hand-to-track back-up in case its surface websites go under — and setting up a crypto wallet to raise funds anonymously.
The I’lam apparatus includes a Telegram channel “for communication only” and encourages supporters to take operational security precautions, advising “users to use VPN or Tor Browser for secure browsing.” Making their intentions clear, the outlet adds the “#Continue_Your_Incitement” hashtag at the end of each post.
The nascent I’lam Foundation set up two surface websites, and while they haven’t been properly loading as of late, its dark web hub has been fully operational. The group posts IS propaganda in numerous languages, including Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Indonesian, Persian, Urdu, Russian, Pashto, Hindi, Uzbek, Bengali, Somali, Tajik, and more.
As part of its fundraising push, the group set up a Telegram account that can be found through a clickable link on I’lam Foundation’s website. Potential donors are instructed to contact the account for crypto wallet address details to enable them to send donations. At this time, it is unclear how much the group has collected and for what exact purposes.
There seem to be problems with I’lam Foundation’s website as its top-level domain (TLD) has changed at least three times since mid-February. In addition, their site can’t be reached via their new URL which may have been taken down by the web hosting company for a possible violation such as the hosting of terror content. It could also be that the site is experiencing a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, overwhelming the site with visits that it cannot handle, consequently taking it offline. Anti-IS actors may have orchestrated a campaign to remove it by reporting it or targeting it.
Despite these difficulties and in demonstration of I’lam Foundation’s durability, the outlet’s dark web channel continues to function, and its content continues to be shared by an array of pro-IS actors on Telegram. I’lam is still a young operation, yet it has the potential to fulfill an important function within the Islamic State movement’s online propaganda ecosystem and become a notable player within the global constellation of pro-IS media groups.