The Islamic State, in addition to putting out so many bureaucratic documents, also posts its own propaganda news by various channels and document types each day, and in multiple languages. Among the ways they disseminate information is daily news bulletins in the Microsoft Word .docx format, as well as in .pdf.
One such source is their English language tumblr account operating right out in the open, which gives links to daily updates in Arabic, English, Russian, and Turkish posted in various file formats to the website archive.org.
Of particular interest is the .docx and .pdf files, as they can be ripe for metadata.
Metadata, or document properties, often contain nuggets of information that authors inadvertently leak, such as when someone noticed a Congressional Black Caucus letter urging less financial industry regulation was written by a Citigroup lobbyist.
Might ISIS have made a major blunder and given something away? Thought Front decided to investigate.
The metadata for the bulletins turns out to be different for different languages, and consistent for each language, suggesting that each language’s bulletin is produced on a different computer.
Among lines of information in metadata is one for Company.
According to metadata, the “company” behind the English and Turkish language updates is “فراس الصعيو,” or Firas Alassaao, which constitutes a personal full name in Arabic. So perhaps Alassaao is the name (or pen name) of someone in ISIS. There is one single solitary reference to a Firas Alassaao as being someone disseminating information on Islamic State, so this is plausible.
In the metadata for the Arabic language version, the company of authorship listed is “SACC – ANAS,” which is the name of a Syrian software company. Presumably someone in Islamic State is using SACC software to compose the Arabic language bulletin.
And for the Russian language version, the company is listed as “Microsoft Corporation.” As with SACC, presumably it was composed using Microsoft software. This is also plausible given that ISIS banned the use of Apple products.
For pdf versions, the author is listed simply as “work” for English; “Acer” for Turkish (presumably produced on an Acer brand computer); “AlBasha,” a common surname, for Arabic; and “Microsoft Office” for Russian. The metadata for all says the documents were created in Microsoft Word 2010.
So ultimately there is no golden nugget of metadata, to the chagrin of this reporter. Nevertheless this information could prove useful.