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    Operation Makedom

    IWF is playing a key role in finding, removing and hashing (creating digital fingerprints) child sexual abuse imagery created by jailed online sexual predator, Abdul Elahi.


    In December 2021, Elahi was jailed for 34 years following a police operation called Operation Makedom. He prolifically abused adults and children online. He groomed his victims to abuse themselves, their siblings and other children, selling “box sets” of the abuse online, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

    Elahi admitted 158 charges against 72 complainants, although the true number of victims is estimated to be nearer 2,000, with ages ranging from adult to children as young as eight months old.

    In 2021 we found and effected the removal of 1,600 webpages featuring images of Elahi’s victims. Throughout 2022 we continued searching and found a further 1,312 webpages containing images of the same eight victims known to us. This significant amount of child sexual abuse material relates to just a small proportion of the estimated number of victims in this case. We estimate there are likely thousands more images still to find.

    Of those webpages we discovered in 2022:

    • Almost a third (31%) were graded Category A, the most serious kind of child sexual abuse, depicting penetration, sadism or degradation. This illustrates the horrific nature of Elahi’s crimes.
    • 90% were images of girls, and
    • In seven out of 10 instances (70%) they were images of children aged 16-17 years old.


    Challenges with verifying imagery of older teenagers:

    The ages of older teens we see being abused online are often particularly difficult to determine without formal identification and age verification. Thanks to our partnership work with the National Crime Agency, we have the information we need to identify – with certainty – that the images we are finding are of child victims. It therefore enables us to take action on those images of young people that otherwise may not be identified as children.

    Due to how we see child sexual abuse imagery being repeatedly shared online, we believe that we’ll keep finding images of Elahi’s victims for years to come.

    While the successful conviction of Abdul Elahi is good news, sadly his arrest in 2018 wasn’t the end of the abuse for his victims. Those he targeted still suffer as their images continue to be circulated online and this repeated trauma can be devastating and long lasting.

    This case highlights the importance and the positive impact of our work in helping to end this revictimisation cycle by removing this imagery from the internet and providing hashes (digital fingerprints) to our Members to prevent it from circulating further.