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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is encouraging its members to avoid using encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram out of fear that U.S.-led coalitions are using their data to locate and target commanders, according to Reuters.
"If you get onto the programs like WhatsApp and Telegram or others from Mosul, and get in touch with a person being tracked, the crusaders will start thinking about you ... assessing your importance and identifying the locations of the (Islamic State) centers by following you," reads an article in the ISIS publication Al-Naba.
The terrorist group had been using the messaging apps to communicate with members and sympathizers outside of ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq, Syria and Libya. French officials said terrorists used these apps during the Paris attacks last year.
Al-Naba’s advisory comes in the midst of a U.S.-led offensive in Mosul, ISIS’s last and largest stronghold in Iraq.
WhatsApp and Telegram use end-to-end encryption to protect the content of messages. WhatsApp had been lauded by privacy advocates in the past, but the app’s security has come under scrutiny after its parent company, Facebook, started sharing user data.
The terror group has stopped using Twitter, which it previously used as a tool for recruitment and propaganda dissemination.
Al-Naba has also called for members to turn off their phones before entering ISIS bases.
"Switch off your phone after you finish your communication and beware of the greatest disobedience of all — switching it on when you are in one of the offices," it said. "As long as it has power, the phone is spying on you."