WhatsApp Messages Led to Belgian Terror Arrests
Robert Ainsworth / 5 years ago
The FBI have been trying hard to get unlimited access messages passed by encrypted messaging services. However, it apparently didn’t need that level of access to WhatsApp messages sent between members of an alleged Chechen jihadist group operating in Belgium. According to reports released. A pair of men were arrested and warrants were issued for three others for allegedly preparing for a terrorist attack in Belgium.
Ars Technica posted:
“The arrests followed raids in which 16 people were detained, which Belgian law enforcement officials said was the result of “working with U.S. authorities to monitor suspects’ communications on WhatsApp Inc.’s messaging service,” Bloomberg’s Gaspard Sebag reported. The police investigation began after they obtained information about a man who had returned to Belgium after fighting as a jihadi in Syria.
Ars reached out to WhatsApp and to Facebook, which completed its acquisition of WhatsApp in October. A spokesperson from Facebook declined to comment on the matter.”
WhatsApp began encrypting their messages last November. In theory, if the encryption service was in use by the alleged terrorists, the content of their messages would have been very difficult to read; the protocol continuously changes pairs of encryption keys with each new message. But it’s uncertain that the messages were encrypted—particularly since the version of encryption is not supported by the Apple iOS version of WhatsApp, and group messages and images aren’t supported by WhatsApp for Andriod yet.
“Even if some of the messages remained protected by encryption, it’s possible that the FBI or NSA gathered metadata at the server for the messages. That metadata could have been used to establish the connections between the suspects and the wounded jihadi, which would have allowed the US agencies or Belgian law enforcement to do more targeted surveillance.”
Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information
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