Amazon disables website used for ISIS propaganda

Amazon disables website used for ISIS propaganda
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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has disabled a website that had reportedly been used since April by a wing of the Islamic State to promote propaganda, including praise of the deadly suicide attack Thursday at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

The Washington Post initially reported on the website used by Nida-e-Haqq, an Islamic State media group that promotes content in the Urdu language widely spoken in Pakistan, as well as parts of Afghanistan. 

An AWS spokesperson told The Hill that the propaganda group's app was "not running on AWS," but added that "following an investigation, we have disabled a website that was linked to this app as it was in violation of the AWS Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)."

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Under the policy, domains under AWS may not use the platform to “threaten, incite, promote, or actively encourage violence, terrorism, or other serious harm,” or “for any illegal or fraudulent activity,” among other prohibited actions. 

"When we receive reports of potential violations of our AUP, we act quickly to investigate and take action to disable prohibited content," the spokesperson added. 

Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, first discovered the website’s link to AWS, and told the Post that the app used words and images from the Islamic State propaganda arm.

While the website’s content was password protected, the Post noted that online domain records showed it had been hosted by AWS since April. 

Katz told the news outlet, “It’s just mind-blowing that even after all these years, ISIS could still find a way to exploit a hosting company like Amazon.” 

“Of course, we should presume that ISIS will always be searching for ways to bypass security protocols, but this app isn’t even trying to stay low-key,” she said. “It is blatantly filled with official ISIS claims, media and logos of ISIS’ media arms, clear as day.” 

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“This app was clearly created to keep ISIS’ message and content alive and distributed online,” she added to the Post. “It is clear that the stakes of keeping such content offline is no less major than in past years.”

The Post reported that the Nida-e-Haqq app on Thursday had shared an image of a man it claimed was the bomber responsible for the attack Thursday that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 Afghan civilians. 

ISIS-K later claimed responsibility for the attack, and the U.S. military, in what appeared to be a retaliatory move, conducted a strike Friday against an ISIS-K planner in the Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan.

The bombing at the Kabul airport Thursday came as the U.S. has been conducting evacuations of thousands of Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.

Updated: 12:56 p.m.