TCAP Expansion Profile: Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB)
We present here an analysis of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB) and why they are being added to the Terrorist Content Analytics Platform’s Inclusion Policy. Blogs will be published for each new entity explaining the reasons for inclusion.
Reasons for inclusion
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), known as al-Qassam Brigades, or IQB, are the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist organisation known as Hamas.
IQB are designated collectively under their umbrella organisation, Hamas, by seven designating authorities consulted for the TCAP’s Inclusion Policy. They also face financial sanctions from the UK, EU, US, and others. The inclusion of IQB is therefore fully consistent with the TCAP Inclusion Policy, and the TCAP will alert all material when it’s officially branded by IQB, whether this is graphic in nature or not.
IQB have carried out deadly terrorist attacks since the early 2000s, including suicide bombings and rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians. The most notable and recent example is Operation al-Aqsa Flood launched on 7 October 2023. This unprecedented and coordinated attack on Israel by IQB and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people.
The inclusion of IQB and other terrorist entities that are designated by the authorities considered in the TCAP Inclusion Policy depend on the offline threat, the amount of online content, and the legal status of this group. Given these three, we have decided to prioritise adding IQB to the TCAP as of 13 October 2023.
IQB maintain a persistent and active online presence. They use messaging apps, and their spokesperson also maintains a dedicated channel. Additionally, the group maintains a website and is assisted by supporter-generated accounts that serve as aggregators of both official and unofficial content.
For more information on each designation system and how it corresponds to the legality of content produced by listed entities, please see our full report on designation.
The consequences of an FTO designation listing include: all funds of the organization under the control of U.S. institutions may be frozen; aliens who are members or representatives of, provide material support to, solicit funds for, or recruit members for the FTO are ineligible for U.S. visas and other immigration-related benefits; and it is illegal for persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States as defined in the statute to knowingly provide material support or resources to an FTO, and those who provide such support may be subject to significant civil and criminal penalties, including fine or a term of imprisonment.
The designation by the Treasury Department results in the blocking of any property, or interests in property, of these persons that are located in the United States or that are controlled by U.S. persons (including legal persons) anywhere in the world. It also prevents U.S. persons or persons located in the United States from having any dealings with the property or property interests of designated persons.”
The UK has particular proscription offences which include “to belong, or profess to belong, to a proscribed organisation in the UK or overseas (section 11 of the Act), invite support for a proscribed organisation , express an opinion or belief that is supportive of a proscribed organisation, reckless as to whether a person to whom the expression is directed will be encouraged to support a proscribed organisation (section 12(1A), arrange, manage or assist in arranging or managing a meeting in the knowledge that the meeting is to support or further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or is to be addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation (section 12(2)); or to address a meeting if the purpose of the address is to encourage support for, or further the activities of, a proscribed organisation (section 12(3)), wear clothing or carry or display articles in public in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that the individual is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation (section 13), and to publish an image of an item of clothing or other article, such as a flag or logo, in the same circumstances (section 13(1A)).”
The consequences of Canada’s listing are that it is an offence to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group. This participation is only an offence if its purpose is to enhance the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity.” In addition, property may be seized and financial institutions have reporting obligations when dealing with designated entities.”
Consequences of the New Zealand listing include: “freezing the assets of terrorist entities and making it a criminal offence to participate in or support the activities of the designated terrorist entity. This includes in particular dealing with the property of the designated terrorist entity or making property or financial services available to the entity. Other support for terrorist activities such as fundraising and recruiting or harbouring terrorists is a criminal offence whether a group is designated or not.”
The Australian government has the following offences related to listed entities, be a member of a terrorist organisation, recruit for a listed group, train or receive training from a designated group, acquire funds for a listed entity, and to provide support to a terrorist organisation.
The effects of an EU listing largely rely on domestic nation states definitions of terrorist offences. More on this can be found in our full Designation Report.
IQB, which function as the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas, have a complex history which is deeply intertwined with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The group is named after Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian-born Islamic preacher who played a significant role in the Arab resistance against British and French colonial rule in the early 20th century.
The group was officially founded in 1987 during the First Intifada (Palestinian uprising) against Israeli occupation and as a splinter faction of the Muslim Brotherhood. Initially, the group's activities focused on guerrilla warfare and attacks against Israeli military targets in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. IQB escalated their activities, carrying out suicide bombings and launching rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians from the early 2000s. This period saw a significant increase in the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, leading many governments, including those consulted by the TCAP Inclusion Policy, to designate either the IQB or Hamas in its entirety as terrorist organisations. Some countries, such as the UK and Australia, had initially only designated the military wing, IQB, but later expanded the designation to include the umbrella organisation Hamas in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
On 7 October 2023, IQB and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for the “al-Aqsa flood” a terrorist attack where they launched over 5000 rockets into Israel and killed over 1000 Israelis. Alongside the launch of rockets, IQB also entered Israel, specifically towns near the Gaza border, and kidnapped IDF soldiers as well as civilians. This attack is a clear example of how IQB is employing terrorist tactics by attacking, killing, and taking civilians hostage. The attack has been widely condemned by the international community.
Online activity assessment
IQB maintains a persistent and active online presence. The group disseminates propaganda and bulletin-style updates via a dedicated official channel on a popular messaging app. The group's spokesperson also maintains a dedicated channel for posting updates to followers and subscribers. In early October 2023 the channels had around 550,000 and 200,000 subscribers, respectively.
Additionally, IQB maintains a website, from which users can access various archives of multimedia propaganda and contact the group for fundraising purposes. Tech Against Terrorism also identified on 10 October 2023 that the group operates its own app.
IQB’s online messaging is assisted by networks of supporters who boost and reshare the group’s official material and narratives across the internet. Tech Against Terrorism has identified content glorifying IQB across multiple tech platforms, of varying sizes. A significant proportion of content uploaded by IQB since attacks began on 7 Oct have been graphic or violent in nature.
Alerting IQB content
We are now including IQB in the TCAP's tier 3 in our Inclusion Policy which includes designated terrorist entities. This decision is based on the designating authorities consulted in the TCAP Inclusion Policy, which have designated Hamas as an umbrella organisation. The TCAP will now alert the content produced by IQB on the basis both of the designation of its umbrella organisation Hamas, and of the group’s historical designation in its own right by some countries. Additionally, we will also explore the inclusion of supporter-generated media outlets that promote or glorify IQB through unofficial content, although this is currently beyond the scope of the TCAP. This is due to two reasons, first all supporter-generated material will be alerted through tier 4, and we will first identify a list of supporter-generated media outlets that are in scope of this, before starting to alert material through TCAP. Second, due to resource constraints in us prioritising official content produced by IQB as well as our crisis alerting (see below), this will follow later this year.
In addition to including IQB in the TCAP, Tech Against Terrorism activated its incident protocol on 9 October and has monitored the al-Aqsa Flood attack and the online fallout closely. We have also alerted tech companies and law enforcement both to attacker-produced content and supporter-generated content which glorifies or supports the attack through the regular channels of our open-source intelligence reporting. In future, we will continue to alert in this manner any material that relates to the incident currently unfolding in Israel. However, when such material is officially branded as IQB content, we will now also issue alerts through the TCAP.This entry is part of a series of monthly blogs dedicated to TCAP expansion, explaining the reasons for inclusion of each new TCAP entity. You can find our full Inclusion Policy, which explains the process and legal grounding we use for deciding which terrorist content we alert here.
 See the United States Designation Profile in our Designation Report.
 [Proscription Offences](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-organisations--2/proscribed-terrorist-groups-or-organisations-accessible-version#:~:text=How%20does%20proscription%20help%20disrupt,messaging%20and%20EU%20asset%20freezes), United Kingdom.
 [Listed Terrorist Entities](https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/index-en.aspx), Canada.
 [Designated Terrorist Entities](https://www.police.govt.nz/advice/personal-community/counterterrorism/designated-entities#:~:text=The%20UNSC%201267%2F1989%2F2253,terrorist%20entities%20in%20the%20TSA), New Zealand.
 [List of Terrorist Organisations](https://www.nationalsecurity.gov.au/what-australia-is-doing/terrorist-organisations/listed-terrorist-organisations), Australia.
 [Proscribed Terrorist Groups or Organisations](https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/proscribed-terror-groups-or-organisations--2/proscribed-terrorist-groups-or-organisations-accessible-version), United Kingdom.
 See the designation lists above in the table.