ISIL’s top cyber operative killed in drone strike

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Originally published in WTOP

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has allegedly lost another important operative, but this one may have held the key to ISIL’s future.

In addition to ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s plans for a global caliphate, Junaid Hussain, also known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, was working on a digital version.

“He was of part of this group of people building a cyber caliphate,” said Robin Simcox, research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society in London.

“The fact that somebody like Junaid Hussain and his associates are able to carry out cyber attacks against the most powerful country on the earth enables the Islamic State to reach beyond inspiring terrorist attacks in the West or carrying out terrorist attacks in the region. It provides it with an extra component for its threat,” said Simcox.

Simcox said he believes the attempt to build a so-called “cyber caliphate” is an effort to put ISIL on par with nation-states. “We associate China as a severe threat to cyber security, but what Junaid Hussain did was provide ISIL a dog in that fight as well.”

Not only was Hussain believed to be instrumental in the architecture of an execution of ISIL’s social media messaging, but he was also allegedly intimately involved in recruiting and outreach.

“He was also thought to possibly be in touch with the Garland, Texas shooters,” said Simcox.

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