My Affair With ISIS: Death Threats, De-Anonymization, and Phishing Links

Many people want to become influencers, but they don’t realize the responsibility that comes with influence

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Contents:

1.) Introduction

2.) Backstory

3.) That Escalated Quickly

4.) In Closing / Lessons Learned

1.) Introduction

Social media can be hazardous if you are not careful, and I’m not talking about its addictive potential or the proclaimed effects on dopamine. I’m talking about real, physical threats that can occur.

I am originally from Sudan, where war, death, and religious extremism are common.

Let me tell you a story.

2.) Backstory

Back when I finished high school, I had like a six month holiday before going to college and had a lot of free time; during that time, I joined multiple local Facebook groups (100k+ Active Members).

These groups were rife with conversations about the refugee crisis in the country, how refugees are taking over the fast-food industry, opening restaurants, competing with local restaurants, and taking them out of business.

I would occasionally get into arguments with various members about discrimination, how refugees from war-torn countries should be granted fundamental rights, treated as equals, etc.

Then one day, this happened.

3.) That Escalated Quickly

I vividly recall waking up that day to a text message on WhatsApp, and keep in mind that I got this message on a personal private number that I didn’t share anywhere. I had less than 50 contacts on my phone, mostly friends and family.

Anyway. The sender had a very frightening profile picture, he or they created the WhatsApp profile two hours before sending the message, and he was using a Philippinen VoIP phone number that I’ve never seen before.

His message reads:

“Asalam Alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa barakatu, ya Ibrahim.”
“We are from the Islamic State of Iraq and the levant. We have been following you lately, and you seem to possess character traits that make you a good fit for us.”

I replied:

“Wa Alaikum al-salam, your ideology isn’t the same as mine, and I have no interest in going anywhere with you.”

Shit got real when they replied:

“Ok. Don’t do anything stupid, or we will pay you a visit at [my_home_address] and take you against your will. You will thank us later for guiding you on the right path. We know that you went to [my_high_school] and applied to go to [my_current_college].

Don’t do anything stupid, or the consequences will be dire.”

This message was enough to trigger a panic attack of ungodly proportions; I knew at this point that this isn’t one of my friends trolling me.

I went to the Security and Intelligence Service and reported the incident, and provided the chat logs and any information I had on them.

They calmed me down and said that they would deal with it effectively.

But, even when I went back home, they kept sending messages with all my other social media accounts links, almost any picture or selfie I had uploaded online (I was obsessed with Instagram back then), and a lot of additional personal identifying information; they also knew the names of various family members.

I sat there for hours and hours, thinking about how to put an end to this nightmare.

Then I came up with an idea, but this idea had a huge probability of failure, and if it failed, then maybe I’ll face what they called ‘dire consequences.’

Eventually, I pulled the trigger. I made a phishing link that redirects to my Facebook account and sent them a message like this:

“OMG!!! DID YOU FIND MY PERSONAL INFORMATION HERE: [phishing link]!”

Luckily enough, they took the bait; after that, I didn’t reply to any further messages.

I sent an email to the Security and Intelligence Service with the IP address and location coordinates of the people behind this.

Bizarrely enough, the senders were operating from my exact city, and even though they used a VoIP number, they didn’t disguise their IP in any way.

After two or three days, I got a call from the Security and Intelligence Service asking about how I got the senders’ information. I cooperated and told them everything.

And no, I didn’t face any ‘dire consequences’ up until this day.

4.) In Closing / Lessons Learned

Many people want to become influencers, but they don’t realize the responsibility and danger of influence. When you share your opinions on social media, especially with topics such as politics and religion, expect anything to happen because you may tip off the wrong people.

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