Al Qaeda on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
Washington Times:

Banned from Facebook and censored on YouTube, al Qaeda and Taliban jihadists are turning to Twitter to spread their propaganda in a new social media front in the terrorists’ war against America.

Extremist groups long have used the Internet to distribute videos, audio recordings and other messages. But this is the first time they have tried to establish a presence on the microblogging site Twitter, which has proved a valuable organizing tool to the young activists behind the revolutions in the Arab world.

“Up until now, we haven’t seen the [extremist] groups themselves active in this space,” said William McCants, an analyst with the Center for Naval Analyses and founder of the blog, which reports on extremist messaging.

“The question is: Is this the start of a trend, or is it an anomaly?” he said, adding that individual supporters of extremist groups appear to be using Twitter.

The Twitter feed @alemarahweb posts links to the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban calls itself. The feed, in Pashto - the language spoken in the Taliban heartland of southern Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan - has been active since December and has posted more than 670 tweets, as the 140-character Twitter messages are called.

Another Twitter account, @al_nukhba, was set up last month. It posts links to an Arabic-language website called Nukhba al-Ilam al-Jihadi, or Jihadi Media Elite (JME). The website features Arabic transcripts of audio and video messages from al Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen, North Africa and Iraq, said Christopher Anzalone, who identified the feeds.

Mr. Anzalone, a doctorate student at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal who studies Muslim political movements’ use of multimedia, said the phenomenon is new.

“There are a small number of [extremist media] outfits with Twitter accounts,” he said, calling the groups’ use of the service “very nascent.”

Whether the groups continue to tweet, in part, “depends on how Twitter responds,” he said.

Twitter should block enemy communications. They should not permit their product to facilitate these communications by people trying to destroy us.
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