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April 9, 2014

Terrorist Groups Continue To Flock To Twitter

The recent launch of Twitter accounts by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a media organization affiliated with Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) underscores the continued ability of terrorist organizations to influence and potentially recruit followers worldwide.aqap-twitter

GIMF’s Twitter feed, which was re-launched in February 2014, is primarily in Arabic and includes a mix of official statements and links to propaganda materials. It has gained 1,533 followers. One of the recent tweets included a link to an English-language video series called “Mujahideen Moments” that promotes militant activity.

The AQAP Twitter feed was re-launched in late March 2014. The feed, which now has 3,406 followers, is in Arabic and includes pictures of militants and official statements from AQAP.

AQAP has been particularly adept at spreading its message online. Inspire magazine, its online English-language publication, has influenced many extremists and would-be extremists. Inspire came out with its twelfth issue in March 2014, which called for car bomb attacks on major U.S. cities.

The use of Twitter by Foreign Terrorist Organizations first made headlines in December 2011 when Al Shabaab, a terrorist organization in Somalia that formally merged with Al Qaeda in February 2012, began tweeting.

ADL recently released a new report, Home­grown Islamic Extrem­ism in 2013: The Per­ils of Online Recruit­ment &Self-Radicalization, ana­lyzing the rise of terrorist use of online platforms and the effects and impact that use has on domestic security.

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April 26, 2012

Jihadists Solicit Help Online to Craft Their Message

The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an umbrella organization that distributes videos, literature and other messages for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, has apparently posted a submission form on Google’s blog service soliciting “participation, comments or suggestions” for its propaganda.

The form includes instructions in both English and Arabic for contacting the group, with reminders not to “mention your real name, address..etc. [sic]” and to include an email address “so we can reply to you.” The page also includes instructions for sending encrypted messages.

GIMF’s call for “participation” not only demonstrates the continuing effort by Jihadist propagandists to exploit mainstream social media platforms to communicate with potential followers (Al Shabaab, for example, started using Twitter in December 2011), but also how Jihadist media entities continue to rely on the skills and efforts of individual followers to help craft their message.

For example, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language magazine Inspire regularly encourages readers to contribute articles, quotes and images. It has also provided contact information for readers “interested in contributing to this magazine with any skills – be it writing, research, editing or advice” and suggested that individuals use the same encryption program referenced by GIMF “in order to avoid detection from the intelligence services [sic].”

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused of attempting to detonate a vehicle he believed was laden with explosives at an Oregon Christmas tree lighting ceremony in 2010, is an example of someone who responded to such solicitations. Not only did he allegedly write and send an article to Inspire (which was not published), he also submitted pieces that were published in Jihad Recollections, the self-described “first English Jihad magazine” released by a collaboration of online terrorist sympathizers, including Samir Khan. Khan produced Inspire up until he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen.

Others have taken it upon themselves to create jihadist propaganda without necessarily utilizing established terrorist media outlets, relying on internet forums and other social media for distribution of their materials. For example, an April 2012 image of the New York skyline with the message “Al Qaeda Coming Soon Again in New York” attracted widespread media attention and prompted enhanced law enforcement vigilance. The image, apparently created by an individual member of a jihadist forum, demonstrated the propaganda value that can be created by individuals using commercially available software.

While these messages may lack the cachet of a “brand name” propaganda distributed by GIMF and similar terrorist media producers, the materials still attract attention, create fear and encourage others to play an active role in the creation of propaganda in support of terror.

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