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US Bombs ISIS Command Center After Terrorist Posts Selfie Online 286 writes: Brian Everstine writes at Air Force Times that U.S. intelligence officers were able to locate and bomb an Islamic State command center based on a photo and comments in social media. "The [airmen are] combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command. "And in some social media, open forum, bragging about command and control capabilities for Da'esh, ISIL, And these guys go 'ah, we got an in.' So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three JDAMS take that entire building out. Through social media. It was a post on social media. Bombs on target in 22 hours."

Carlisle was careful to not go into great detail about the how the information was gathered and what additional effort went into targeting those bombs. It's easy to imagine that in addition to the information gleaned from the initial post that the Air Force used satellite and drone reconnaissance data. It's also possible that U.S. intelligence could have actively engaged with the original poster in order to draw out information. Attackers and researchers have shown time and time again that simply asking a target for information—either by posing as a trusted individual or using carefully created phishing attacks—works even better than fancy information-stealing digital attacks.
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US Bombs ISIS Command Center After Terrorist Posts Selfie Online

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  • by watermark ( 913726 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @02:25PM (#49850841)


    • Or anything else they feel like:

      ‘We kill people based on metadata.’ - Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA

      • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @03:12PM (#49851471)
        If this was exif tags from the selfie, then that would be data, not metadata.

        I am really, really surprised that they chose to tell us any of this honestly, unless they announced this to try to stem the flow of marketing from ISIS toward young impressionable Muslims by making the social media aspect seem particularly dangerous. If the rank-and-file can't publish their experiences without being blown up, the rank-and-file might stop trying to encourage others to join. That leaves the older people at the top to try to make such decisions, and they might not be as good at convincing the young to join them.
        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @03:33PM (#49851719)

          If this was exif tags from the selfie, then that would be data, not metadata.

          It may have been exif, but I have seen academic research that used "big data" in the form of satellite images to identify both the location and orientation of photos containing landscape. I would be astonished if the military didn't have this capability, especially since, as I recall, they were funding the research.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          If this was exif tags from the selfie, then that would be data, not metadata.

          We may be arguing semantics here, but the wikipedia page [] about exif uses the word "metadata" 29 times, with statements like:

          The metadata tags defined in the Exif standard cover a broad spectrum

          and a specific section about geolocation [].

          From a linguistic/philosophical point of view, an image file contains image data. Additional information about that image data ("metadata"), would include information about the time/date/location that the picture was taken, etc.

          tl;dr: It's metadata.

          • Yes - for a photograph, the data are the bits that make up the image. The metadata tells about the data (how, where, when it was collected, photographic settings, etc.)
    • Maybe they posted a Geocache on their command site

    • I imagine this could become a useful tool for them to take out their competors. Just take selfies at any target they want destroyed, and BOOM.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @02:26PM (#49850863)

    Anybody using a selfie-stick should be bombed into oblivion.

    Well done US military, in cleaning up that particular corner of the gene pool.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      Anybody using a selfie-stick should be bombed into oblivion.

      I can't remember where I first heard it, but someone said that selfie sticks should due used to beat the people taking selflies.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @02:29PM (#49850901) Journal
    Has anyone else considered the potential implications of "terrorist posts geostamped selfie, gets bombed"?

    I predict we'll see "swatting" taken to a whole new level.
  • I hope it was EXIF data.
  • You'd figure terrorists would be more concerned with privacy than the average Joe.

  • Darwin Award (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @02:30PM (#49850919)
    Would this qualify for a Darwin Award?
  • Verification? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @02:32PM (#49850963)

    Here I am standing in front of our TERRORIST HEADQUARTERS on a great sunny day! My fav pic this week hope u like it!

    I hope they spent at least a few of those 22 hours verifying that the place they were going to bomb was in fact the TERRORIST HEADQUARTERS.
    I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be a school, hospital, or frozen yogurt shop.

  • "Sock it to me?!?!!?"
  • what if isis.. just takes selfie's around iraq mil sites and then uploads them or schools etc etc

  • was the General bragging about it. If he hadn't blabbed then they could get others with this technique in the future, at least for a while. An opportunity lost.
  • And I'm not just talking about the one that took and posted the picture.

    If you are exploiting an intelligence source the last thing you want to do is let on that you are doing so.

  • see some moron standing at this command

    Morons are a problem for all. Russia — whose attitude towards accusations of being involved in Ukraine is "Our soldiers aren't there, but they will prevail" — is repeatedly embarrassed by the same kind of morons among her servicemen posting selfies and other photographs [] picturing them with well-recognizable landmarks and monuments inside Ukraine in the background.

    Sigh, if only Ukraine had anywhere near the punch of America's air-force...

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Ukraine has only Soviet-era air force, and it is all grounded due to concentration of Russian anti-air tech. I am not even sure American's air force would do much better in the region, not unless major long-range missile bombardment effort was undertaken to suppress all that AA.
  • ... sink ships.

    Evidently, some IS people didn't study this particular example of basic security precaution...

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Friday June 05, 2015 @03:18PM (#49851539)

    Does ISIS have its own version of the Pentagon? Is this a building with eagles on it with a big ISIS flag waving over it? Do they have to worry about cutbacks and base closures?

    My impression of ISIS is a crowd-sourced and funded guerilla organization. Said "ISIS Command Center" was probably Seldom Bin Leyd's garage where he kept his beater Toyota pickup with the stack of 20+ year old RPGs in the bed. Seldom Bin Leyd naturally was spouting off online during his WOW session (erm, "training") about his "command center", and essentially got swatted with a few JDAMs.

    I think we just happened to catch one of the stupid ones. The competent guys in ISIS probably are glad this guy got wasted.

    • by Alomex ( 148003 )

      ISIS is the former Saddam army and bureaucracy. They have extensive experience in running a country and derive income from oil operations and a taxation system.

      • by mbone ( 558574 )

        ISIS is the former Saddam army and bureaucracy. They have extensive experience in running a country and derive income from oil operations and a taxation system.

        Bingo. ISIS is most run by Baath members, to the extent I wonder if it isn't really just Baath hiding in plain sight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 05, 2015 @03:20PM (#49851561)

    a fun and cool thing to kill people in other countries. It's just something the U.S. gov does, and in the midst of getting used to this, the innocent people who are also getting killed by U.S. guns and bombs are conveniently forgotten, and no-one is ever held accountable.

  • the JDAMs were actually delivered through the interweb tubes directly to the command center

  • This could be an opportunity to take swatting to a whole new level. I can just imagine gamer kidies dressing up as ISIS and taking selfies in front of their opponents houses now.

  • They must skip the lessons on communications discipline in the ISIS evil genius training course. Of course, it sounds like Gen. Hawk Carlisle was asleep that day as well.

    On the other hand, knowing something of the Middle East, it's probably a triple head-fake of some sort. The selfie was probably taken in front of the house of a local CIA operative whose cover was blown, as an act of combat swatting by ISIS, the 22 hours was the time required for us to get him out of there to safety, and Gen. Carlisle is ju

  • Things like this is why I usually post as AC.

  • Interesting. It looks like the US military has not only invented, but also improved on the technology needed to stab someone in the face over the internet. This will be a boon for reasonable internet discussions everywhere! []

  • George Carlin weighed in on such issues, "I don't believe anything the government tells me." []

    This is a really cute story about why they blew up some building in another country. Oh, and it's a completely unverifiable story, too. It's kind of like when Clinton blew up that pharmaceutical factory. There was never really any evidence it was producing chemical weapons. But it was a good story to tell. It sounds better than "we caused ten of thousands of Sudanese to die, in a terrorist retaliation for the embassy bombings." []

  • But that may exactly be what US policies are targeted at. After all, an external enemy is incredibly useful to politicians that cannot solve the problems at home...

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"