UK special forces have launched a massive electronic warfare campaign on Islamic State (Isis). The "black ops" operation reportedly carried out by a crew of the RAF Rivet Joint spy plane has shut down the extremist group's communications network in Libya.
The forces deployed sophisticated "jamming strikes" on the Isis (Daesh) stronghold of Sirte, a town located on the Mediterranean coast, 400 miles from Malta, the Daily Mail reported. The strike involved the RAF crew turning off IS's preferred signal frequencies.
A source is quoted as saying: "All enemy communications including mobile phones and the internet are vulnerable to interception. It is best practice to monitor these means and gather information, then occasionally use jamming strikes to spread confusion among their ranks at vital times. There is a shortage of human sources within IS in Libya so whatever intelligence we can gather from listening to their conversations, the better."
A GCHQ cyberwarfare squad on board the Royal Navy survey vessel HMS Enterprise kept track of the response to the latest jamming strike. They also observed the online exchanges between key IS leaders who are currently believed to hold command over 6,000 militants in Libya.
"They were very angry and couldn't understand what had gone wrong. We jammed the frequencies for 40 minutes – long enough to prove the capability, but not so long that IS realised what was happening," the source added.
Of late, IS has begun gathering up its online forces in efforts to step up cyberattacks on international governments and organisations. In April, a pro-IS hacker group called United Cyber Caliphate leaked a hit list which included the names and personal details of thousands of New Yorkers.
More recently, another IS-affiliated hacker group, Islamic State Hacking Division, boasted of having a mole within the Ministry of Defence and threatened to leak British intelligence data in order to create a more significant presence in cyberspace.
Britain is one among several international governments to have recently increased focus in identifying and neutralising IS in cyberspace.