CAIRO - Islamic state has told its members to stop using internet-based communication apps like WhatsApp and Telegram on smartphones, suspecting they are being used by the US-led coalition to track and kill its commanders.
Until recently, the hardline group used such apps to chat with members and supporters outside its main areas of control in Syria, Iraq and Libya -- including, say French officials, the assailants who staged attacks across Paris a year ago, killing at least 130 people.
A US-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State positions since 2014, when the group proclaimed a caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Twenty commanders of the group were killed this year, including spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani.
"If you get onto the programs like WhatsApp and Telegram or others from Mosul, and get in touch with a person being tracked, the crusaders will start thinking about you ... assessing your importance and identifying the locations of the (Islamic State) centers by following you," said an article in the group's weekly newspaper, Al-Naba, published online.
The new instructions came as the group tries to fight off a US-backed offensive on Mosul, its last major stronghold in Iraq, by far the biggest city it controls.
Islamic State members already avoid communicating directly with each other on Twitter, which they used 2-3 years ago to spread their ideology and attract new followers.