by and for citizen investigative journalists

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July 27, 2015

By Aric Toler

Interview with “WowihaY,” the man who narrated MH17 as it happened

The anonymous Twitter user @WowihaY has long been documenting the conflict in eastern Ukraine, especially as it has affected his hometown of Torez. He came to a degree of notoriety on July 17, 2014, as he was one of the most influential Twitter users in chronicling and deciphering the downing of MH17. Along with documenting…

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July 25, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Ukraine’s Dnipro Battalion Combines Drone Footage with Open Source Intelligence

Early this week Ukraine’s Dnipro Battalion produced a rather unusual video on their YouTube channel. The battalion has released a number of videos containing drone footage of Russian-backed separatists positions in the past, but this new video contained something unusual: The video opens with the question “Where does the terrorist Givi celebrate his birthday?”, “Givi”…

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July 24, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Sputnik’s MH17 Reporting Spins Out of Control

In the long months between the shooting down of Flight MH17 in Ukraine and the publication the Dutch Safety Board report and completion of the criminal investigation various conspiracy theories have been put forward to explain why the reports are taking so long, and how the reports will be inevitable cover ups. Recently Fred Westerbeke, the…

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July 24, 2015

By Bellingcat

Grand Theft Moldova

The bank theft was so outsized and bold that citizens of the Republic of Moldova came out in the streets this past May by the thousands to protest: “We want our billion back!”

They used the number — US$ 1 billion – that news accounts reported had gone missing from three Moldovan banks in November of 2014. Unsure who to blame, the protestors denounced the government, politicians, banks and organized crime.

The theft was a serious setback for Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, with a gross domestic product of only US$ 8 billion and an average wage of US$ 200 per month.

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July 24, 2015

By Chris Biggers

Iran Carrier Mockup Anchored off Bandar Abbas

Prior to signing the historic nuclear deal between the EU3+3 and Iran earlier this month, Iran’s propaganda piece, a mock-up of a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, was moved outside the harbor of Bandar Abbas. Satellite imagery acquired by DigitalGlobe in June shows the mockup floating west of the peninsular breakwaters at the Iranian naval base. The mockup…

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July 16, 2015

By Chris Biggers

Brazil Aircraft Carrier Modernization Underway

Satellite imagery confirms that Brazil’s Sao Paulo Aircraft Carrier has entered the dry dock at the naval shipyard in Rio de Janeiro, probably to be evaluated for ship improvements. Few countries in the world have a working aircraft carrier and Brazil happens to be one — even if barely. With a 7,400 km coastline and…

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July 16, 2015

By Aric Toler

MH17 In Their Own Words: Witness Testimonies on Social Media from July 17th, 2014

On July 17, Bellingcat will conduct a reenactment of the social media reaction to the MH17 disaster from the account @mh17live. All of the information here, along with many other reactions and speculations from 1 year ago, will be retweeted and translated on this account. In the days following the downing of MH17, narratives fell…

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July 16, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Russia’s Colin Powell Moment – How the Russian Government’s MH17 Lies Were Exposed

In the year since the shooting down of Flight MH17 in Ukraine on July 17th 2014 there have been many different theories about who was responsible and the exact circumstances under which MH17 was shot down. For much of that time those theories have fallen into two broad categories, that either a separatists controlled Buk…

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July 13, 2015

By Bellingcat

Zaroshchens’ke Launch Site: Claims and Reality – A Bellingcat Investigation

This report (which can be found in its entirety here) analyzes in detail one aspect of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) by a Buk missile system in eastern Ukraine: the plausibility that Zaroshchens’ke was the launch site. First, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) claimed in a press briefing on 21 July…

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July 11, 2015

By Bellingcat

Geolocating MH17 Crash Videos with Checkdesk

In the wake of the downing of Flight MH17 in Ukraine on July 17th dozens of videos of the aftermath of the crash were uploaded to social media sites. In the days and weeks after July 17th it was possible to geolocate some of these videos, and ahead of the 1 year anniversary of the…

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July 27, 2015

By Aric Toler

Interview with “WowihaY,” the man who narrated MH17 as it happened

The anonymous Twitter user @WowihaY has long been documenting the conflict in eastern Ukraine, especially as it has affected his hometown of Torez. He came to a degree of notoriety on July 17, 2014, as he was one of the most influential Twitter users in chronicling and deciphering the downing of MH17. Along with documenting…

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July 25, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Searching the Earth: Essential Geolocation Tools for Verification

As verification and open source investigation techniques and methodologies have been developed over the last few years various tools and platforms have been used to access the information that makes this kind of work possible. This includes pre-existing tools such as Google Earth and new tools developed over the last few years. In this article…

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July 23, 2015

By Lawrence Alexander

Unveiling Hidden Connections with Google Analytics IDs

Imagine you are researching an anonymous website with no clues as to its authorship. A single string of code could link that site to another, which perhaps reveals the identity of the owner. With the right tools, this information can be surprisingly easy to uncover. Site fingerprinting with embedded code Google Analytics is a popular…

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July 23, 2015

By Justin Seitz

Gaming Meets OSINT: Using Python to Help Solve Her Story

This was originally posted to the AutomatingOSINT.com blog. There is a very cool game called Her Story. The premise is that you are a cop sitting in front of a 1990s-era computer system that enables you to punch keywords in to view videos about a murder case. When you punch in a keyword, there are…

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June 23, 2015

By Justin Seitz

Mapping Where Sex Offenders Can Live

This article was originally posted to the AutomatingOSINT.com blog. Recently I was listening to an episode of the Freakonomics podcast titled, “Making Sex Offenders Pay – And Pay and Pay” which you can listen tohere. The premise behind the episode was that sex offenders are a bit unique in how they are punished by the…

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June 17, 2015

By Dan Kaszeta

Tactical Nuclear Ambiguity (Part II): Mushroom clouds, Flashes, and Bangs

If we are going to use video and still images to make pronouncements about whether or not certain explosions are nuclear or not, then we must make full advantage of the audio and visual cues available to us on the image or recording.  The purpose of this post is to provide some basic information on…

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June 9, 2015

By Justin Seitz

Analyzing Bin Ladin’s Bookshelf Part 2

This article was originally published on AutomatingOSINT.com. After running the first part of this series I had a question come in from Charles Cameron (@hipbonegamer) a well known author and terrorism researcher: Charles Cameron (hipbone) – May 26th, 2015 So — did you draw any conclusions from the use of this technique on the trove…

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June 5, 2015

By Aric Toler

Who to Trust, Google or the Russian MoD? A Guide to Verifying Google Earth Satellite Image Dates

Bellingcat recently published an in-depth investigation finding that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) fabricated and misrepresented their satellite photographs in a July 21, 2014 press conference, immediately following the July 17 downing of MH17. The most obvious and compelling evidence of this investigation was in the clear differences in the landscape between Russian MoD…

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June 2, 2015

By Dan Kaszeta

Tactical Nuclear Ambiguity: A short history of incidents mistakenly believed to be nuclear detonations

Recent weeks have seen numerous reports that an explosion in Yemen was a “nuclear bomb” or even a “neutron bomb”.  These particular reports, about a large explosion in Yemen in late May 2015 are largely re-circulating due to articles in the widely derided and generally discredited Veterans Today. It is clear to me, for reasons that…

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May 31, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

How to Find Historical Imagery of Russia’s Faked Satellite Photos

In Bellingcat’s latest report, Forensic Analysis of Satellite Images Released by the Russian Ministry of Defense, we exposed how Russia had falsely claimed satellite imagery from June 2014 was from July 14th and July 17th. As with nearly all of Bellingcat’s work we used open source information, satellite imagery from Google Earth, to expose the fake…

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