Faux ‪pro-IS Facebook‬ shot down within hours of launch

World spared pics of cats with Kalashnikovs

A pro-Islamic State social network was pulled offline hours after its launch.

The network, 5elafabook, was supposedly set up in the wake of a ramp-up in efforts by Twitter to quickly shut down accounts promoting violent jihad. Facebook has likewise applied the ban-hammer on accounts spouting pro-Caliphate propaganda.

5elafabook – pronounced Khelafabook and meaning “Caliphate book”, said it was independent and not sponsored by the Islamic State. Nevertheless it shared the same worldview and key philosophical tennets, including obedience to Sharia law, the supposed glory of martyrdom and a shared ambition for IS to expand.

The site was ostensibly established as a social network for IS supporters.

Oddly, www.5elafabook.com was hosted in, of all countries, the US, and on a shared limited-resource platform. In addition, the site made no use of encryption. It's altogether too amateurish even to serve as a honeytrap, security researcher Rickey Gevers argues. "For an intelligence agency, this set-up is even way, way, too obvious and wouldn't make sense at all," Gevers wrytes in a blog post. "In my opinion, this is just a set-up chosen by an amateurish ISIL supporter or funny prankster."

Others, such as patriot hacker The Jester, quickly noted some of the same incongruous elements in the whole set-up.

Amateurish or not, the site caught the attention of Anonymous, elements of which later claimed responsibility for taking down the site.

Anonymous has an ongoing campaign against pro-IS websites, dubbed ‪#OpISIS‬. "All ‪#ISIS‬ website assets will go offline. ‪http://5elafabook.com ‬ has already quit. More to come. ‪#OpISIS‬ ‪#Anonymous‬," one Anonymous-affiliated account Tweeted triumphantly.

5elafabook.com went live as a clearly unfinished pre-beta on Sunday, before going offline around a day later. A linked Twitter account has been shut down and 5elafabook.com itself replaced by a message saying that it had temporarily suspended operations to "protect the information and details of it's [sic] members and their safety".

The site was apparently put together using Socialkit, a platform for the development of do-it-yourself social networks. "The site was registered with webservices company GoDaddy.com on March 3 and cited its home address as IS-controlled Mosul in Iraq, but its home country as Egypt [and] with an apparently false phone number there," Stuff.co.nz reports.

Screenshots (via a story in French newspaper Le Figaro) show a site whose login page had the look and feel of a Facebook clone, albeit one whose home page featured liberal use of the Caliphate emblem and a different colour scheme, put together in black and blue. ®

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