AI Technology Fuels Sophisticated Propaganda by Terrorist Groups

In this post:

  • Islamic State is using AI in its online propaganda, including fake news anchors and fake videos.
  • AI has made it possible for the extremists to produce better quality videos to spread their agenda.
  • Due to the relatively loose legal restrictions on AI, it is becoming difficult for governments to curb the use of the technology  by radical organisations.

Islamic State supporters, facing significant military setbacks, are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to generate sophisticated online propaganda. Experts report that IS supporters have been able to produce elaborate propaganda, such as AI-created news bulletins in different languages, using the technology.

Also read: Bots Utilizing AI Flood Social Media with Disinformation

A case in point was the Islamic State Khorasan (ISKP), which is a branch of the IS that is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After an IS-claimed attack in Bamiyan province on May 17, which killed four people, including three Spanish tourists, ISKP released a video of an AI news anchor. The anchor, speaking Pashto, looked like the local people and narrated the attack, showing the group’s use of AI to make the content more believable.

IS Affiliates Deploy AI-Generated News Anchors

Another AI-produced video was released with a virtual male anchor stating that IS was behind a car bomb attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Cybersecurity expert Roland Abi Najem stressed the efficiency of these AI-driven deepfake videos, adding that IS has used Hollywood quality production for years.

“AI now has easy tools to use to create fake content whether it’s text, photo, audio or video, you only need data, algorithms and computing power, so anyone can create AI-generated content from their houses or garages.”

Roland Abi Najem

IS’s use of AI for propaganda purposes was officially initiated a few days after a terrible act of terrorism in Moscow on March 22, where 145 people were killed. The experts pointed out that an AI news anchor was used to report this attack for the first time and that this group resorted to disseminating fake news through AI.

Expanding Extremist Influence via AI Content

Mona Thakkar, a research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, said that IS supporters utilize character-generation techniques.

“These efforts have garnered positive responses from other users, reflecting that, through future collaborative efforts, many supporters could produce high quality and sophisticated AI-powered propaganda videos for IS of longer durations with better graphics and more innovation techniques.”

Also read: What’s the Fake News and AI Battle in the 2024 Election?

Thakkar also noted that members promoting IS on Telegram encourage the use of AI image generator bots as they produce high-quality images for the channel because these bots are effective and easy to use. This practice is indicative of the increasing use of AI as a tool to enhance the effectiveness and cohesiveness of extremism.

AI Enables Influence Operations and Recruitment

Even though the group has lost considerable ground in Syria and Iraq, it still employs AI to spread its message of hate and present a facade of strength. As stated by Najem, with the help of AI, IS can create deepfake videos to influence specific celebrities and influencers, mainly the youth, to join the organization.

Also read: AI Revolutionizing Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Efforts

The Global Network on Extremism and Technology researcher Daniel Siegel explained that AI has changed the nature of the online influence operations of extreme groups.

“The strategic deployment of extremist audio deepfake nasheeds, featuring animated characters and internet personalities, marks a sophisticated evolution in the tactics used by extremists to broaden the reach of their content.”

Siegel also stated that other terrorist organisations like al-Qaida and Hamas have also turned to AI to produce content for their followers. While such radical organizations use AI to create professional-looking, translated, and convincing content, authorities and tech giants need to find ways to counter these threats.

Cryptopolitan reporting by Brenda Kanana

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