22 Oct 2014

Mystery deepens over suspected IS site

11:32 am on 22 October 2014

The mystery over who is behind a suspected terrorist website with links to Islamic State, and to New Zealand, has deepened.

The account holder has cancelled its New Zealand mailing account with no explanation.

Address in Parnell in Auckland listed on the website's registration details.

Address in Parnell in Auckland listed on the website's registration details. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Authorities in Iceland shut down the website, khilafah.is, earlier this month in an unprecedented move. Its internet regulator, Internet in Iceland (ISNIC) said it was the first time in almost 30 years it has suspended a domain name.

The person who registered it, Azym Abdullah, listed a maildrop service in Auckland as a physical address.

That mailing service company, Private Box, says another security check raised a red flag on the account holder.

It then tried to make contact, asking for further identification documentation, before the account was then suddenly closed.

Company director, Gareth Foster, said it is an unusual development.

"It is a little bit scary that as soon as we send an email request for some identity documentation that the account was closed, there wasn't any exchange.

"It is unusual and a little bit unsettling due to the nature of the website and you kind of wonder what it is exactly, who was on the end of the account."

Mr Foster said police have taken a statement from his company about its involvement and the details it has of the account holder.

"We ran the account through our new sign-up process which vets the accounts a little bit more closely, and the account was flagged as high risk.

"It is a bit odd, normally when that does happen in a normal situation there is a little bit of an exchange... the account was just closed."

Grounds to believe website belonged to Islamic State

ISNIC's director, Jens Pétur Jensen, told Radio New Zealand after the website was shut down that there were enough grounds to be almost certain it belonged to IS.

"Within the Arabic letters it says 'This is the news publishing website of the Islamic State'," he said.

"All the horrible videos of the executions of the reporters and many, many others, they were there."

ISNIC was never able to contact Azym Abdullah.

Radio New Zealand has also tried to contact the person using the phone number listed, but there is no answer and it goes through to a voicemail system.