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Hiding in Plain Sight: Jihadi Activism on Twitter

The platform has become a boon both for terrorists and for counterterrorism intelligence.

by
Roger Farhat

Bio

March 24, 2014 - 11:22 pm
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Well into the new millennium, radical Islamist propaganda has found a popular platform for terror groups to disseminate their messages with relative ease, while reaching out to a wider audience than they ever could before.

This has been accomplished through access to the Web, initially by establishing networks and platforms designed for purposes that range from propaganda and news to recruiting new operatives, planning, and exchange of ideas, whilst limiting access by password restriction.

In the wake of flourishing jihadi use of the Internet, considerable effort has been invested by security agencies around the world to thwart this trend, only to yield a counter-productive result by prompting the mushrooming of multiple new outlets for every forum blocked.

In recent years, this issue has developed and evolved at a far greater rate, owing to social media platforms that enable any hardline Islamist or extremist to become a virtual activist, irrespective of hierarchy or organization. Nonetheless, jihadists who have realized the great potential of social media as a prominent and rapid means of spreading propaganda for a multitude of sympathizers, supporters, and would-be jihadists are now utilizing these platforms to reach out and target a new audience.

This new target population includes neutrals and Westerners seeking extreme adventures and experiences.

To this end, this article presents an examination of expanded jihadi activism on Twitter, and highlights the tardy U.S. efforts to counter this trend, specifically with regards to addressing Muslims in the West.

Senior Jihadists Join Twitter, Forum Members Follow Suit

Between late 2012 and early 2013, notable jihadi discussions were observed on al-Qaeda (AQ) affiliated password-protected forums regarding the importance of the online media battlefield and the emphasis on the risks inherent in its use.

Additionally, a general abatement in the participation of activists on these forums was discerned, prompting top AQ ideologue Abu Saad al-Amili to pen an essay lamenting the decline and calling upon the “soldiers of the jihadi media” to return to their (virtual) arenas.

a

One of Amili’s social media columns

In the essay, titled “Appeal to the Media Soldiers of Jihad: Maintain your Positions and Return to your Enclaves,” al-Amili attributed the shrinking activity on jihadi forums to the migration of members into such social media networks as Facebook and Twitter.

b

al-Amili’s Twitter account

Although himself a Twitter activist (@al3aamili), in his article al-Amili attempts to motivate members to remain active on the forums. Yet, the fact that he, together with top AQ brass, has become a prominent Twitter user appears to have encouraged forum members to “migrate” to Twitter en masse instead of “maintaining their position” elsewhere.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I wish Alan West was Secretary of State. The man knows his stuff.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well into the new millennium, radical Islamist propaganda has found a popular platform for terror groups to disseminate their messages with relative ease, while reaching out to a wider audience than they ever could before."

"Radical Islamist"? What the hell is that? This is PC on overdrive. They are doing exactly what the Koran tells them to do and exactly what Mohammad would want then to do. There is no "Koran: Special Limited Edition for Radicals".

*Let me say this, and I don’t care about being popular - whatever. The first thing you got to do is to study and to understand who you’re up against. And you must realize that this is not a religion you are fighting against, you are fighting against a theo-political belief system and construct. You’re fighting something that’s been doing this thing since 622 AD, the 7th century, 1388 years.

You want to dig up Charles Martel and ask him why he was fighting the Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732? You want to ask the Venetian fleet at La Ponto, why they were fighting a Muslim fleet in 1571? You want to ask the Germanic and Austrian knights why they were fighting at the Gate of Vienna in 1683? You want to ask people what happened at Constantinople and why today it’s called Istanbul because they lost that fight in 1453?

You need to get into the Koran, you need to understand their precepts, you need to read the Sura, you need to read the hadiths, and then you can really understand that IT'S NOT A PERVERSION THEY ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT THIS BOOK SAYS.

- Allen West
(show less)
(show less)
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
John Quincy Adams, a President unlike the one we have now, and his predecessor, I might add, who had a brain and a clue and basic Christian decency, on Islam.

In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle.

Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex and he [Mohammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion [Islam, not "radical Islam"], against all the rest of mankind.

Between these two religions [Christianity and Islam], thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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Someone should investigate if these groups are getting people OFF TWITTER BY stealth complaints of spamming etc....preventing freedom of speech of opponents of Islamists
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting post. No doubt Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, WhatsApp, etc. are being used by jihadists and would-be jihadists for communicating and spreading their propaganda. This is a modern and more rapid version of handbills, pamphlets, or short wave radio. What of it, what does the writer propose should be done? I'm guessing the solution is to hire Mr. Farhat's employer, Terrogence.

Is this post an advertisement or an opinion piece?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
So the Great Seal of the United States, next to tweets exposing Islamic terrorism. Not bad. Does the Big Boss know?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"All tweets on the account are in English, suggesting it is aimed at Muslims living in Western countries who sympathize with AQ ideology."

This description is very ugly. It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no "AQ ideology" versus Islam and the infallible teachings of the Prophet. May Peace be upon Him. Islam is Islam and that’s it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well into the new millennium, radical Islamist propaganda has found a popular platform for terror groups to disseminate their messages with relative ease, while reaching out to a wider audience than they ever could before."

"Radical Islamist"? What the hell is that? This is PC on overdrive. They are doing exactly what the Koran tells them to do and exactly what Mohammad would want then to do. There is no "Koran: Special Limited Edition for Radicals".

*Let me say this, and I don’t care about being popular - whatever. The first thing you got to do is to study and to understand who you’re up against. And you must realize that this is not a religion you are fighting against, you are fighting against a theo-political belief system and construct. You’re fighting something that’s been doing this thing since 622 AD, the 7th century, 1388 years.

You want to dig up Charles Martel and ask him why he was fighting the Muslim army at the Battle of Tours in 732? You want to ask the Venetian fleet at La Ponto, why they were fighting a Muslim fleet in 1571? You want to ask the Germanic and Austrian knights why they were fighting at the Gate of Vienna in 1683? You want to ask people what happened at Constantinople and why today it’s called Istanbul because they lost that fight in 1453?

You need to get into the Koran, you need to understand their precepts, you need to read the Sura, you need to read the hadiths, and then you can really understand that IT'S NOT A PERVERSION THEY ARE DOING EXACTLY WHAT THIS BOOK SAYS.

- Allen West
(show less)
(show less)
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I went out and bought a translated Qur'an about 4 years ago and on the advice of a few local Shia of my aquaintance, made sure it was translated by a Muslim, not 'a kaffar'. It was eye-opening, to say the least.
Whenever so-called Fundamental Islam is brought up in my presence I ask the 'dubious doubters' present if they have ever read some/any of the Qur'an and invariably, the stock answer is "No".
Since so many casual conversations today exclude any mention of religion or politics, how can a rational human break through the walls of silence that so many people willingly erect ?
The hilarious part of these conversations occurs when you are told to "...provide the proof..." and you tell them that "...it's right there if you wish to find out for yourselves...".
{No one learns a real lesson by other people talking at them. It's much-more productive to let them think it's 'their idea'...}


18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wish Alan West was Secretary of State. The man knows his stuff.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
John Quincy Adams, a President unlike the one we have now, and his predecessor, I might add, who had a brain and a clue and basic Christian decency, on Islam.

In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle.

Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex and he [Mohammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion [Islam, not "radical Islam"], against all the rest of mankind.

Between these two religions [Christianity and Islam], thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is being reported that our POTUS is in Brussels with 900 staff; 45 vehicles and 3 planes. Belgium are apparently spending an additional $10M on Obama's security, and have deployed 350 police officers on motorcycles together with untold numbers of security people. Yep ... Al Qaeda must be on the run alright .... ... Or maybe Mr and Mrs Obama are simply trying to aid in the bankrupting of America plan ... good Socialists that they are.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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