We hereby analyze the online activities of JI and its student wing Shibir and correlate those activities with the data analytics available publicly through the White House petition website.
Case I: An article describing the procedure for signing the petition using fake IDs was posted on March 6 2013 in on the blog http://shibir24east.blogspot.ca which is maintained by ‘Shibir’, the student wing of JI. The full screenshot of the original article (written in Bengali) is available here: http://i.imgur.com/Cu1fEyf.jpg ; a partial screenshot is given below. The article was later taken down.
A translation of the article from the above screen shot is as follows:
“How would you send thousands of emails to the White House to stop the warcrimes tribunal?
A petition has been set up at the White House to stop the conspiratorial hanging of the leaders of Jamaat at the farcical tribunal in Bangladesh, which needs 100,000 signatures. If it is possible to get 100,000 signatures by March 18, Barak Obama will give out a statement protesting and condemning this and will take necessary actions against it. In order to reach the target quickly, you can follow the easy procedures described below.
1. Open your browser and click on the following link. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/express-concern-against-international-war-crime-tribunal-and-mob-justice-bangladesh/6gg04svt
2. You will first have to create an account with an email to sign this petition.
3. Now open another tab and go to this link: http://www.fakemailgenerator.com/
4. In the second tab, you will get a temporary email address which you have to copy. Then create a new account in the petition with this email. Wait until you get a confirmation link in the inbox. If you don’t get the confirmation link, go to the inbox and then copy and paste the email here (in the mail box) with which you signed up.
5. After creating the new account, sign the White House petition. Then close this tab and reopen it. (You may copy this link somewhere or bookmark it in the browser.)
6. Then again from the second tab, create a new mail ID using http://www.fakemailgenerator.com/ and create a new account at the White House petition page.
Don’t share this procedure on the Facebook wall, rather inform your friends of this via Facebook message or via emails. Please visit our blog daily. And to inform everyone in cell phones, use the following link to send SMS (text message) from PCs:
(N.B: Besides opening the White House petition site in our browser, you need to open the site fakemailgenerator.com in a second tab.)
If you don’t understand, please comment.”
This exposes a planned effort by JI to use fake email IDs to open WhiteHouse.gov accounts. Similar description of the faking procedure might have been circulated internally before it was posted in the blog.
Now we analyze the distribution of signatures for this petition to unearth anomalies possibly resulting from the usage of fake email IDs. The initials and locations of signatories and the date stamps are available at the petition website publicly and the data was collected by very simple codes.
Case II: In Figure 2, it is clear the number of signatures per day has increased significantly since March 5, 2013, which coincides with the date (March 6) when the article was posted. Note that March 6 daytime in Bangladesh is approximately March 5 nighttime in the US, which makes it a perfect coincidence. This suggests that this increase in the number of petition signatures per day after March 5 is a possible result of the JI call for signing the petition with fake IDs.
Case III: One of the most stunning anomalies is the case regarding the pair: initials: ‘A.A.’ and location tag: ‘Port Arthur, Texas.’ As of the end of March 6, 2013, there were a total of 42,325 signatures, of which only 8344 contain location tags. Out of the 473 signatures from Port Arthur, 467 (~99%) has the same initial “A.A.” Note that the total population of Port Arthur, TX is ~54000 (http://bit.ly/13JV1qO ). This implies that at least ~1% of the people living in Port Arthur have the initials ‘A.A.’ and are knowledgeable about the current situation in Bangladesh, which is very unlikely. Analyzing the date stamps of “A.A.” from Port Arthur, it is found that between February 26-March 4, everyday more than 75 signatures came from “people” with initials “A.A.”. By all means, this is a very clear anomaly and a plausible case of large scale usage of fake IDs by a single or a small group of people. Further investigation may find similar anomalies with other initials-location tag pairs.
Case IV: Our last observation is regarding the distribution of the 8344 signatures that have locations associated with them over all the states in USA. Figure 5 shows the distribution of 8344 signatures that have location tags. The highest number of signatures came from the states of NY, DC and VA. TX and CA follow them. Now in figure 3, it is observed that same initials-location pairs occurring more than 25 times all came from Brooklyn NY, Arlington VA, Washington DC and Port Arthur TX. One explanation can be the relatively higher density of Bangladeshi people in these states. However, further investigations should be conducted to know whether fake email addresses are being used from these particular states.
In summary, we expose a concerted effort by the Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and their student wing Shibir to influence the White House in a very unethical way by asking their followers and like-minded people to sign their White House petition under fake email IDs and our analysis based on the data available publicly on the petition website, to the best of our knowledge, identifies a number of cases where large number of fake ID might have been used to sign this petition. Further analysis by the concerned agencies may unearth more instances of fraud signatures by impersonification. We hereby ask for proper attention of the concerned authority to take necessary steps against this.
Research Team: Auvi, Asif, Enamul & Kallol