Monday, February 4, 2013

Somalia's al-Shabab Opens New Twitter Account

Via BBC -

Somalia's al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group has opened a new Twitter account in English, less than two weeks after its previous account was suspended.

A senior al-Shabab official told the BBC that the new account was genuine.

Al-Shabab's previous English-language account was suspended after it used it to announce it would kill a French hostage and then said it had done so.

Twitter's rules say that threats of violence are banned but it refused to comment on the suspension.

[...]

The new al-Shabab account has 280 followers, compared to the previous account which had more than 20,000 followers.

It was closed on 25 January, about a week after it announced the killing of a French spy, Denis Allex, it was holding hostage.

Mr Allex, who was kidnapped in Somalia in July 2009, was killed in retaliation for a failed French operation to free him.

Analysts say the US has wanted al-Shabab banned from Twitter for some time, but lacked the legal means to enforce its will.


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Research Brief - Violent Jihadism in Real Time: Al-Shabaab’s Use of Twitter
http://www.start.umd.edu/start/publications/research_briefs/STARTResearchBrief_AlShabaabsTwitterUse.pdf

OVERVIEW
Since December 2011, the Somali jihadist group, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, had been actively using the popular micro-blogging platform Twitter to engage with English-speaking supporters. At the time of this brief’s publication, the organization (@HSMPress) had more than 20,000 followers and had tweeted approximately 1,250 times, before its English-language account was suspended by Twitter Jan. 25, 2013.

PROJECT BACKGROUND
This project is part of a broader paper published by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), “Lights, Camera, Jihad: Al-Shabaab’s Western Media Strategy,” and seeks to analyze the al-Shabaab’s use of Twitter to better understand its messaging priorities. The findings show that the organization is most concerned with promoting its narrative, which states that Somalia is a front under siege in the war on Islam. The group also highlights its ability to carry out attacks and reject the bias of the Western media.

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