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article imageYoung girls being sold on social media as sex slaves by IS

By Karen Graham     Jul 6, 2016 in World
On the Islamic state's encrypted Telegram app, the 12-year-old girl's asking price has gone up. “Virgin. Beautiful. 12 years old … Her price has reached $12,500 and she will be sold soon," reads the ad.
And that is what the young girl, along with 3,000 other Yazidi women and girls has to look forward to unless they can be freed from their degrading and gruesome captivity.
The posting, in Arabic, was among other encrypted ads on the Telegram app that included ads for kittens, weapons, drugs and other items. It was shared with the Associated Press by an activist in the minority Yazidi community.
Even though the extremist group is losing territory, it is tightening it grip on its estimated 3,000 or so Yazidi women and girls being held as sex slaves. As the AP points out, the terrorist group uses a peculiar mix of ancient barbaric practices and modern technology.
“They register every slave, every person under their owner, and therefore if she escapes, every Daesh control or checkpoint, or security force – they know that this girl … has escaped from this owner,” said Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak, reports the Daily Caller.
ISIS has been lauded for the technical know-how of many of its members. It uses drones to survey and map battlefields and uses social media sites like Twitter for recruitment, and communicates using secure messaging tools like Telegram, WhatsApp or Facebook.
An ISIS fighter tried to sell a Yazidi sex slave on Facebook for $8 000. Abu Assad Almani  a German ...
An ISIS fighter tried to sell a Yazidi sex slave on Facebook for $8,000. Abu Assad Almani, a German national, posted two images of two Yazidi women “for sale” and then entered a debate with other social media users over whether or not the $8,000 was a “good price or not." The post was removed in a few hours.
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Telegram has come under criticism for developing its own cryptographic tools, but Inverse says Johns Hopkins University professor Matthew Green likens that to "building a submarine out of saran wrap." But it is still a popular site with ISIS.
The huge problem surrounding these encrypted messaging sites centers around what to do about them. We have known about the sex slave trade for over a year, but what to do about taking the sites down is the problem. Millions of people use these sites and they aren’t using secure communications tools to engage in slavery.
There is the risk of an invasion of privacy. But encrypted messaging provides security against hackers or surveillance dragnets cast by intelligence agencies. So it protects everyday Joes, journalists, activists, and extremists all in the same way. The only option is to delete accounts.
“We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior and disable accounts when provided with evidence of activity that violates our terms,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told the AP. “We encourage people to use our reporting tools if they encounter this type of behavior.”
The only problem with deleting suspected ISIS accounts is that members will just sign up to create a new account, or find another secret means of using social media to communicate. It is a never-ending battle.
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