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April 18, 2018

By Syrian Archive

Belgium Illegally Shipped 96 Tonnes of Sarin Precursor to Syria

Jeff Deutch from Syrian Archive, additional reporting by Kristof Clerix from Knack Knack and Syrian Archive reveal today that Belgian companies have violated EU sanctions against Syria, according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit. Based on information found through the UN Comtrade database, freedom of information requests, and confirmed by the Belgian Customs, we…

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April 16, 2018

By Adam Rawnsley

Anatomy of a Russian Chemical Weapons Lab Lie

If Moscow wants its Syrian allies to skirt the blame for chemical attacks, they’re going to have to come up with some better evidence than a few beakers and boilers in a dingy basement. Russia and Syria say the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria was all a rebel-staged fake— and promise that they’ve…

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April 13, 2018

By Eliot Higgins

The Douma Chemical Attack – Fake News about Fake News on Russia’s Fake News

With any war crime in Syria receiving significant media coverage, there has been a concerted effort by pro-Kremlin and pro-Assad individuals and media outlets to spread claims attacking the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets), a major source of information and footage on war crimes in the conflict. These attacks generally fall into two categories: claiming…

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April 11, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Open Source Survey of Alleged Chemical Attacks in Douma on 7th April 2018

On April 7th 2018 reports began emerging of alleged chemical attacks on the city of Douma, in the rebel held pocket of Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Reports indicated that a significant number of people, including children, had been killed by these attacks. This report will assess and verify the open source information regarding these attacks, and…

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April 9, 2018

By Wim Zwijnenburg

Nefarious Negligence: Post-Conflict Oil Pollution in Eastern Syria

Since the so-called Islamic State lost most of its control over oil resources in northeast Syria, various groups have replaced them to take control over the oil infrastructure–or, at least, what is left of it. In the recent Bellingcat article, Hazardous Legacies, an overview was provided of the damaged oil industrial sites and clusters of…

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April 9, 2018

By Pieter Van Ostaeyen

Separating Facts from Fiction about Belgium’s Oldest Foreign Fighter, Bassam Ayachi

On April 4, 2018 French media reported that the 72 year old Shaykh Bassam Ayachi was arrested in the north of France on March 27. The media portrayed him as “the oldest Belgian Jihadi”, as “the mentor of generations of Belgian Jihadi’s” and above all as “one of the main recruiters for Belgian foreign fighters who left for the war in Syria”. In 2012 Flemish newspaper De Standaard even called him “the personification of radical Islam in our country.” His actual story is a bit more nuanced however, and this brief article aims to separate the fiction from the facts.

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April 2, 2018

By Oleksiy Kuzmenko

The Curious Case of David Jewberg, the Fake Senior Pentagon Russia Analyst

Summary: “Senior Pentagon Russia Analyst LTC David Jewberg” maintained a popular Facebook page and was frequently quoted in Ukrainian and Russian media as a Pentagon insider related to topics concerning Ukraine and Russia. He represented himself as an actual person with the legal name “David Jewberg,” not as a persona or pseudonym. A number of…

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March 31, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

PLAN Vessels Mobilize in South China Sea: A Timeline

Almost fifty People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels were mobilized in the South China Sea not far from Hainan Island, satellite imagery acquired in late March by Planet Labs confirms. Hainan Island is host to China’s strategic base for military operations in the region. Centered amongst the warships was China’s only in-service aircraft carrier, Liaoning…

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March 27, 2018

By Jakub Janovský

Seven Years of War — Documenting Syrian Arab Army’s Armoured Vehicles Losses

Over the course of seven years of war, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has engaged in armed conflict against various opposition forces composed of domestic rebels and foreign volunteers, often equipped with light weapons. Given the sheer amount of open source information available related to these events, it is possible to track the military vehicle…

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March 23, 2018

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Soar Dragon UAVs Deploy to Yishuntun Airbase

This article was originally published on Offiziere.ch New satellite imagery acquired on 04FEB2018 by DigitalGlobe shows that China has deployed the Guizhou Aviation Industry Group (GAIG) Xianglong (Soar Dragon) high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to Yishuntun airbase in Jilin province. The platform, identified by its unique box wing design and ‘V’ shaped vertical…

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April 19, 2018

By Syrian Archive

Methodology: How we Tracked the Illegal Shipment of Sarin Precursor from Belgium to Syria

On 18 April 2018 Syrian Archive and Knack revealed information that Belgium violated EU sanctions against Syria according to the summons of an upcoming lawsuit. The Belgian customs found that without having requested the appropriate export licenses three Flemish companies have exported 96 tonnes of isopropanol in a concentration of 95% or higher to Syria…

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March 8, 2018

By Dan Kaszeta

Nerve Agents: What are they?

The former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter have been deliberately poisoned, in an apparent act of chemical terrorism.  This  poisoning occurred in Salisbury, in the UK,  on Sunday 4 March 2018. It has recently been disclosed that this particular act involved the use of a “nerve agent”.  Already, there are numerous examples…

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February 22, 2018

By Aric Toler

How to Archive Open Source Materials

Throughout this story, click on any of the images to view in full resolution. When conducting open source investigations, an ever-present issue is how to archive away the materials you are researching. For example, a social media post may be deleted by a user after you publish an investigation, or a video on YouTube showing…

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February 21, 2018

By Eliot Higgins

New Bellingcat Workshops Announced for London and Amsterdam

Bellingcat is holding a series of workshops in Europe in 2018, where participants can learn the tools and methodologies used by Bellingcat in their investigations. Currently 5 day workshops are planned for the following dates: Amsterdam June 25th – 29th FULL London July 2nd – July 6th FULL Participants are required to bring their own laptops, and…

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February 10, 2018

By Thomas Mulder

Dutch Police Social Media Activity Raise Privacy Concerns

Following a Bellingcat workshop, a group of investigative journalists from the Dutch public broadcaster KRO-NCRV spent the last six months investigating social media platforms used by the Dutch National Police Force. After analyzing data and footage from YouTube videos, tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts, we reached the following conclusion: Dutch police are sometimes careless with…

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January 29, 2018

By Aric Toler

How to Use and Interpret Data from Strava’s Activity Map

Recently, the fitness app Strava published a “heatmap” of trillion of data points visualizing the information of users who submitted or synchronized their fitness activity to their servers. This data includes both fitness information recorded directly on the fitness app and data synchronized with the app from a number of physical fitness trackers, such as…

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November 13, 2017

By Christiaan Triebert

Daily Quizzes to Train Your Verification Skills

You can read the original blogpost by Fiete Stegers, on which this article was based, here. Where exactly was a photo on Twitter taken? When was a Facebook video recorded? Is that image fake, or authentic? These are just some of the common questions you can face when verifying social media content. A few months ago, Julia…

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October 27, 2017

By Collin Anderson

Bahamut Revisited, More Cyber Espionage in the Middle East and South Asia

Introduction In June we published on a previously unknown group we named “Bahamut,” a strange campaign of phishing and malware apparently focused on the Middle East and South Asia. In the Bahamut report, we documented a capable actor interested in a diverse set of political, economic, and non-governmental targets, which suggested espionage rather than criminal…

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October 17, 2017

By Aric Toler

How to Conduct Comprehensive Video Collection

Much of Bellingcat’s work requires intense research into particular events, which includes finding every possible photograph, video, and witness account that will help inform our analysis. Perhaps most notably, we exhaustively researched the events surrounding the shoot down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine. The photographs and videos taking near the crash…

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September 15, 2017

By Justin Seitz

Follow the Bitcoin With Python, BlockExplorer and Webhose.io

This article was originally posted to the AutomatingOSINT.com blog. More and more investigations are being conducted on Tor and many of them can also include investigating Bitcoin transactions. The nature of Bitcoin is such that the transactions themselves are designed to be anonymous but there are many other factors that can dictate whether the owner…

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