Telegram Is Leaving a Terrorist Bomb-Making Channel Online

In recent months, Telegram has come under increasing pressure to take care of the neo-Nazi terrorism problem that is festering on the platform.
November 13, 2020, 3:06pm
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Image: AFP via Getty Images

UPDATE: The channel was deleted following publication.

Telegram, an encrypted messaging app known for being a safe haven for neo-Nazi terror groups, allowed a bomb making tutorial channel to continue broadcasting on its platform despite being notified by a terrorism watchdog of the channel’s existence.

The U.S.-based Counter Extremism Project (CEP), reported to Telegram what it described in a release as a channel “made for sharing videos and written instructions for the homemade manufacture of explosives.” The channel was created on October 29—since then, it has published posts featuring how-tos on cooking up explosives that garnered over 2000 views. The channel itself is linked to the broader neo-Nazi extremist ecosystem known as “Terrorgram.”

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The channel, which is in English and Russian and counts more than 300 subscribers, featured videos and texts that promote recipes for explosives known to be used by jihadist organizations for suicide bombings. Some posts have a disclaimer downplaying the channel’s clearly more terroristic qualities: “The channel and materials on it were created exclusively for scientific purposes, we do not promote or encourage extremist activity.” (Since the publication of this article, the channel is no longer online.)

According to CEP, the channel (which Motherboard will not name) was reported to Telegram on November 5. A Russian neo-Nazi channel with nearly 5,000 members that is also popular with far-right extremists shared the channel to its members. Telegram has yet to respond to a request for comment.

In recent months, Telegram has come under increasing pressure to take care of the neo-Nazi terrorism problem that is festering on the platform. A CNN article from June highlighted how the platform had become a wasteland and congregation point for violent neo-Nazis organizing IRL activities against Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. Telegram told the broadcaster that it was a “a neutral platform” with a mission “to support privacy, free speech, and peaceful exchange of ideas.”

In June, the FBI arrested U.S. army soldier Ethan Melzer on terrorism charges, citing his use of Telegram to plot the ambush and killing of his unit in concert with a neo-Nazi terror group known to authorities. 

The Base and Atomwaffen Division, two American-born terror groups with Nazi and accelerationist mantras that have come under a nationwide FBI crackdown, were well known to use Telegram as a propaganda and recruitement platform. Overseas, the Ukrainian secret service agency, the SBU, raided the homes and arrested members of a neo-Nazi terror group promoting the Christchurch terrorist Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto, which it did using the Telegram platform.