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November 9, 2018

By Dan Kaszeta

Debunking Maps of Alleged “Islamic No Go Zones” in London

Various right-of-centre political commenters have, at different times, alluded to the existence of so-called “Islamic no go zones” in Western Europe. Generally, these are defined broadly and variously areas where the local authorities do not have effective police presence, a majority of the local population is Muslim, and “Sharia law” is in effect. Some commenters…

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November 8, 2018

By Masis Ingilizian

Azerbaijan Pushes into Nakhichevan Borderlands

Recent satellite imagery from Planet Labs shows ongoing engineering works by the Azerbaijani armed forces on the Nakhichevan border into what was once considered neutral territory. Azerbaijani attempts to sidle up closer to the Armenian frontline since the 1994 ceasefire have primarily taken place on the Nagorno-Karabakh border, reducing the point of contact to fewer…

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November 7, 2018

By Khalil Dewan

Investigating Houthi Claims of Drone Attacks on UAE Airports

Any news suggesting a Houthi “drone strike” or “ballistic missile” attack should not be downplayed by any of the parties involved in the conflict in Yemen. The last two years have seen the rise of the Houthi’s asymmetric capabilities, especially against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Houthi sources, however, should not be…

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November 6, 2018

By Aric Toler

Open Source Monitoring of NATO Trident Juncture Exercises

Russia’s massive annual military exercises, which are named after cardinal directions (e.g. Vostok for east, Zapad for west), garner a tremendous amount of international attention and intense scrutiny. While in some rare circumstances Russian military exercises parlayed into larger international conflicts, such as the July 2008 Kavkaz military exercises that were followed the following month…

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November 5, 2018

By Alexander McKeever

Olive Branch Military Outpost Built Atop Afrin Cemetery

Since the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and allied Syrian Arab and Turkmen militias concluded “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria in late March of 2018, allegations of human rights abuses have widely circulated on social media. Among these charges is the destruction of graveyards and accompanying shrines throughout Afrin. Videos and photographs have surfaced depicting Yezidi…

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October 31, 2018

By Bellingcat Contributor

Clarification: China has yet to Build an Underground Facility at Gonggar

New infrastructure upgrades were completed at Lhasa-Gonggar earlier this year, satellite imagery from Planet Labs shows. Workers at the civil-military airfield widened a road and built an additional parking apron near the base of the mountain. Earlier this month, India’s Hindustan Times reported that China had built an underground facility to house fighter aircraft at…

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October 31, 2018

By Robert Evans

How the MAGAbomber and the Synagogue Shooter Were Likely Radicalized

During the week of October 21-27, 2018, the United States suffered three separate far-right terrorist attacks. Robert Bowers, the Tree of Life Synagogue shooter, and Cesar Sayoc, the so-called “MAGAbomber,” both left substantial social media footprints on Facebook, Gab and Twitter. Bellingcat has combed through as much as we’ve been able to find in order…

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October 31, 2018

By Syrian Archive

Civilian Harm as a Result of Alleged Russian Airstrikes

Several years of monitoring alleged Russian airstrikes in Syria reveals a pattern of indiscriminate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure. In an analysis of 3303 videos documenting alleged Russian airstrikes from 116 sources between 30 September 2015 and 9 September 2018, Syrian Archive has identified 1418 incidents in which Russian forces allegedly targeted civilians or…

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October 30, 2018

By Aric Toler

The Unintelligent Design of SureFire Intelligence

On October 30th, the far-right site Gateway Pundit published documents alleging that Robert Mueller, who is heading up the investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, sexually assaulted a woman in 2010. The firm that produced this “investigation” was quickly revealed to be SureFire Intelligence, which has a tiny digital footprint prior…

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October 26, 2018

By Raphael Satter

Joseph Mifsud: Rush for the EXIF

I write about cybersecurity for The Associated Press, but like other reporters I pitch in on other investigative tracks too. That includes occasional forays into covering the fallout from Russia’s 2016 election interference. On Monday, I published a story on Joseph Mifsud, the enigmatic Maltese academic who is alleged to have dropped publicly known hint of…

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November 8, 2018

By Daniel Romein

Europol’s Asian City Child Abuse Photographs Geolocated

Since 2017 the European Union Agency of Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known as Europol, has been crowdsourcing parts of or heavily censored photographs, related to child abuse crimes in their “Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object” campaign. Within two weeks after the start of their campaign Europol received 10.000 contributions from the public. Bellingcat,…

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November 1, 2018

By Eliot Higgins

New Bellingcat Workshops Announced for Berlin, London, Washington, and Amsterdam (All workshops now full)

Bellingcat is holding a series of workshops in Europe and the United States in 2018 and early 2019, where participants can learn the tools and methodologies used by Bellingcat in their investigations. Currently 5-day workshops are planned for the following dates: Berlin : November 26-30 (FULL) London : January 14-18 (FULL) Washington, D.C. : January 28-February 1 (FULL)…

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October 24, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Dali, Warhol, Boshirov: Determining the Time of an Alleged Photograph from Skripal Suspect Chepiga

On 11 October 2014, a Facebook profile to a person named “Ruslan Boshirov” — the cover identity of Skripal poisoner Anatoliy Chepiga — posted a lone photograph of Prague, showing the heavily trafficked Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock. The upload date of this photograph coincides with a report from the Czech publication Radiožurnal that…

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October 22, 2018

By Aiganysh Aidarbekova

Corrupt Latin: How Orthography Revealed Corruption in Kyrgyzstan

In 2013, Russian political activist Alexey Navalny published a blog post in which he exposed a corruption scheme used on state procurement websites. Generally, in public procurement processes, the state customer publishes an advertisement for the purchase of goods or services, and the contractor offering the lowest price wins the tender and delivers the goods/services….

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October 18, 2018

By Hannah Ellis

How to Prevent, Identify and Address Vicarious Trauma — While Conducting Open Source Investigations in the Middle East

Whether it involves victims of a chemical attack or a bombing, open source investigators are required to watch and interact with raw footage from the field — it lies at the core of online open source investigation. As a consequence of the increase in eyewitness media, investigators come in contact with a high amount of…

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October 15, 2018

By Dan Kaszeta

Use of Ricin: Is This Amateur Hour?

Recent incidents have brought up the subject of the biological toxin known as ricin as a possible terrorist weapon. A Utah man, one William Clyde Allen III, was arrested by the FBI for having sent letters laced with ricin to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Naval Operations. In June of 2018,…

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September 5, 2018

By Nathan Ruser

How to Scrape Interactive Geospatial Data

With few exceptions, everything that appears in your browser can be downloaded and transformed into useable data formats, with many organisations or individuals maintain complex and publicly accessible datasets containing valuable information. Despite being publicly viewable, in many cases the underlying data is not able to be downloaded and further analysed. This guide will focus…

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September 4, 2018

By Benjamin Strick

How to Identify Burnt Villages by Satellite Imagery  — Case-Studies from California, Nigeria and Myanmar

Evidence of human rights abuses often remains in some of the world’s most regional and unreachable parts. It is in these areas, where a view from satellite imagery above can be the sole method of visual evidence of bombings, attacks, and the destruction of communities. As satellite imagery becomes more available and technology permits for…

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August 23, 2018

By Aric Toler

Creating an Android Open Source Research Device on Your PC

Most digital research can be done without any issues on a desktop or laptop computer; however, sometimes you may need to use a mobile device to use particular applications. This guide will provide a walk-through on setting up a virtual Android device on a PC to conduct open source research. Android emulation is also possible…

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August 13, 2018

By Dan Kaszeta

Why are Nerve Agents so Difficult to Make?

Nerve agents, both in the form of Sarin in Syria and in the form of the so-called Novichok A-234 in the UK, continue to claim both victims and headlines. A recurring theme, aired early on in the Syrian chemical war, and oft-repeated, is that somehow nerve agents are easy to make. Many conspiracy theories and…

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