A REPORT COMPILED by a cyber security analyst has identifed 20 people located in Ireland who either support or are involved with Islamic State on Twitter.
Tom O’Connor, a Dublin based IT security provider with Lan.ie, used details of Islamic State social media accounts leaked by activist group Anonymous to track any Irish-based users connected to the terrorist group.
He told TheJournal.ie that five of the people whose details were leaked by Anonymous were geolocated in Ireland. Twitter attaches location information to users’ tweets – unless they have that function switched off.
In total, around 20 accounts were found to have some connection to the extremist group, but O’Connor estimates with further research it could be as many as 50. The users were located in Dublin, Galway, Donegal and in the midlands.
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“It was really shocking, it was all out in the open – these accounts were claiming extremism and they had friends in the Middle East, in Yemen. They are also quite isolated. They don’t seem to have many connections in the local communities. They could have, say, three connections in Dublin and maybe 100 in the Middle East.”
As geolocation is something that can be turned off, O’Connor believes numbers of users based in Ireland who support Islamic State could be much higher.
“You can protect your tweets and they haven’t done that. After looking through massive numbers of accounts, we’re probably listing the idiots here.”
Two Islamic State recruitment sites operating on Irish webspace were also identified.
“These are general sites, geared towards recruiting Europeans,” O’Connor explained.
“The fact that they’ve chosen to use ‘.ie’ indicates they have some sort of knowledge of Ireland or have used Irish services before. So they may have some connection, maybe went to college here or something like that.”
Although members of the terrorist group use a number of encrypted messaging services, he believes the use of social media accounts and websites “on the plain internet” is helping the authorities to identify potential risks.
Following the recent attacks in Paris, the Irish government has said the threat level here remains the same – an incident is “possible but not likely”.