Administrators manning the social media groups of terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are asking for the Aadhaar numbers of those who are seeking entry into their WhatsApp and Telegram groups.
Independent security experts and government officials, who keep an eye on thousands of groups that are actively used by the terrorists to coordinate with their followers and spread propaganda, especially in the Kashmir valley, told The Sunday Guardian that of late those who are not able to furnish Aadhaar numbers are not being allowed access into the group. Those who are already in the group but are unable to share their Aadhaar details are being removed from the group.
A “hacker”, who has been working independently with multiple government agencies, said that when he recently tried to join a WhatsApp group of Jaish-e-Mohammad sympathisers, he was asked by the administrator to submit his Aadhaar details. When the “hacker” submitted a false Aadhaar number, the administrator called his bluff and denied him entry, saying that the Aadhaar details that he had given belonged to someone else.
This has raised the question on whether, or not, the terror groups have somehow been able to access some sort of an Aadhaar database from where they are able to verify the details.
Technical experts this newspaper talked to, have found that the terror groups are now shifting to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which is known for enhanced security features and “industry grade” encryption.
The terror groups and their sympathisers administer hundreds of groups on popular messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp. Earlier, anyone who could “locate” these groups could join them but now these groups have increased their “security” to keep spies and government officials out.
In recent months, especially after Pakistan was put on the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for failing to control the activities of the terror groups, many of these online groups were “shut down” to avoid detection by foreign agencies.
Last year, as part of its investigation in the terror groups active in Kashmir, the National Investigation Agency identified more than 50 such WhatsApp groups that were being used by terrorist outfits, separatists and stone-pelters to coordinate their “activities” in Jammu and Kashmir.