Telegram is a new mobile and desktop messaging service based in Berlin, Germany, created in 2013 by Russian entrepreneurs, Nicolay and Pavel Durov. Telegram focuses on privacy by offering end-to-end encryption and timed self-destruction. A new feature called “Channels” lets users broadcast to other members of the service. It quickly made Telegram the favorite social media of Daesh (IS or ISIS), al-Nusra and other jihadis, particularly because it offers a guarantee of permanence.

   “It is this new feature that has been enthusiastically embraced by many militant groups, becoming an underground railroad for distributing and archiving jihadi propaganda materials,” says TRAC, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. "As of Nov. 2, TRAC has recorded more than 200 major jihadi channels. Half of them belong to ISIS. Other major players in the jihadi world, from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to Jabhat al-Nusra to Ansar al-Sharia in Libya to Jaysh al-Islam, are increasingly creating their own channels. The rate of membership growth for the channels has been staggering, quickly climbing to about 150,000 total members, the report concludes."

   Telegram's chat feature is now a prime recruiting venue. In addition, the messaging service also permits a superior way of transferring funds, "a virtual encrypted Hawala system offering new ways to transfer and receive crypto-currency", as TRAC describes it. Telegram is easy to handle and more convenient than Twitter. By subscribing to a Telegram channel not only messages can be instantly exchanged but newly arriving items are announced by an acoustic signal.

   Although Telegram offers the average Joe an unprecedented level of privacy, free of snooping by NSA and its likes, it also renders the work of terrorism watchdogs virtually impossible. 

Heinrich von Loesch

Update

Telegram allegedly says it is deleting chats and sites linked to Daesh (IS). No quotable sources found.

-- ed