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August 27, 2014 0

American Killed In Syria Tweeted ISIS Propaganda

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McCain named him­self Duale Khalid on Twitter

The death of Amer­i­can cit­i­zen Dou­glas McAu­thur McCain while fight­ing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) this week­end may fur­ther attest to the impact of ISIS’ sophis­ti­cated use of social media and online pro­pa­ganda.

ISIS, an Al Qaeda inspired ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion oper­at­ing in Iraq and Syria, encour­ages its sup­port­ers to share its mes­sages on social media. McCain appears to have responded.

Between May and August 2014, McCain reg­u­larly shared ISIS tweets and pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als. For exam­ple, he retweeted the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of a speech by ISIS spokesman Abu Muham­mad al-Adnani. In June, he shared an image prais­ing mar­tyr­dom with the cap­tion “Shuhada [mar­tyr­dom] in Jan­nah [par­adise] with there (sic) souls in green birds. flying.”

He also tweeted state­ments indi­cat­ing pro-ISIS view­points includ­ing, “If your (sic) a Mus­lim and you vote, please let me know so I can unfol­low and block you” (indi­cated anti-democratic sentiment).

His own tweets may also indi­cate that he had begun think­ing about dying. On May 14, he wrote, “Ya Allah when it’s my time to go have mercy on my soul have mercy on my bros.” On June 9, he Tweeted to an  an alleged ISIS fighter: “I will be join­ing you guys soon.”  Later, he retweeted: “It takes a war­rior to under­stand a war­rior. Pray for ISIS.”

 

Before May, McCain had not been active on Twit­ter for about a year, and before that he did not reg­u­larly tweet about extrem­ist issues.  duale-khalid-twitter-isis-mcain

McCain’s Twit­ter account and Face­book pro­file (he had recently changed his name to “Duale Thaslave­o­fAl­lah” on Face­book) reflected a man with a diverse mix of non-extremist inter­ests. McCain’s “likes” on Face­book included the Chicago Bulls, Pizza Hut and the TV show Chappelle’s Show. He expressed con­sid­er­able inter­est in street fight­ing and ‘liked’ sev­eral pages pro­mot­ing it.

Some “likes” on Face­book also sug­gested some poten­tial inter­est in extrem­ism as well. For exam­ple, he liked the Face­book page belong­ing to Musa Ceran­to­nio, an extrem­ist Aus­tralian preacher who main­tained an active Twit­ter account that posted and trans­lated ISIS pro­pa­ganda mate­ri­als until his arrest in the Philip­pines in July 2014. He also liked a page called The Black Flag that ref­er­ences Islamist mil­i­tancy and reg­u­larly posted links to the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion, an infa­mous anti-Semitic con­spir­acy theory.

Accord­ing to his Twit­ter account, McCain con­verted to Islam in 2004, well before he stopped post­ing about rap, sports and his friends and fam­ily on social media.

McCain is the sec­ond Amer­i­can iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been killed fight­ing with a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion in Syria in 2014. In May, Moner Abu Salha of Florida was iden­ti­fied in a Jab­hat al-Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) video as hav­ing par­tic­i­pated in a sui­cide attack. In addi­tion, an appar­ent Amer­i­can using the pseu­do­nym Abu Dujana al-Amriki was por­trayed in a video posted online as hav­ing been killed fight­ing with ISIS in 2013.

Over 100 Amer­i­cans are believed to have trav­eled to Syria and Iraq to join the fight­ing, and increas­ing num­bers of those Amer­i­cans are choos­ing ISIS as their orga­ni­za­tion of choice.

McCain was born in 1981 in Illi­nois. He later moved to the Twin Cities and then to San Diego. He grad­u­ated high school and, accord­ing to his Face­book pro­file, stud­ied at San Diego City College.

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August 20, 2014 0

ISIS Backs Up Threats Against U.S. With Beheading

Update – 9/3/2014: On Sep­tem­ber 2, 2014, an ISIS video was released show­ing the behead­ing of a sec­ond Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Steven Sot­loff, again blam­ing U.S. pol­icy in Iraq. A third indi­vid­ual, this time a cit­i­zen of Great Britain, was threat­ened at the con­clu­sion of the video.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda inspired ter­ror­ist group, released an English-language video in which it depicts the behead­ing of a kid­napped Amer­i­can journalist.foley-beheading-terrorism-isis

ISIS is claim­ing that it mur­dered the jour­nal­ist, James Wright Foley, because of U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The video closes with an image of another kid­napped jour­nal­ist kneel­ing next to what appears to be the same exe­cu­tioner, who states “The life of this Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

The video is titled “A Mes­sage to Amer­ica.” It marks a new approach by ISIS, mak­ing good on threats against Amer­i­cans that the group only began cir­cu­lat­ing sig­nif­i­cantly this June. Such strate­gies have been used exten­sively by the ter­ror­ist group to intim­i­date ene­mies and oppo­nents on the ground, but had not pre­vi­ously been employed against Westerners.

In the video, footage of Pres­i­dent Obama announc­ing the airstrike cam­paign is fol­lowed by a state­ment by Foley in which he asserts U.S. actions are the cause of his death. Foley’s masked exe­cu­tioner then deliv­ers an address in British-accented Eng­lish in which he depicts the U.S. as an aggres­sor against ISIS and the Mus­lims who accept ISIS as a state, and says that any mil­i­tary action against ISIS will lead to more “blood­shed” of Amer­i­cans. The exe­cu­tioner then beheads Foley. After­ward, the other kid­napped jour­nal­ist is shown next to the executioner.

The release may improve ISIS’s recruit­ment capac­ity. ISIS broke with Al Qaeda Cen­tral in Feb­ru­ary, and the orga­ni­za­tions com­pete for recruits, fol­low­ers and influ­ence. ISIS’s rep­u­ta­tion for vio­lent action sur­pass­ing Al Qaeda’s has already con­tributed to its recruit­ment efforts, and if this video is seen by extrem­ists as a suc­cess­ful blow to the U.S. it may lead more to join ISIS.

The video was announced on Twit­ter and on the social media site Dias­pora on August 19, and was linked from the Inter­net Archive web­site, an online “dig­i­tal library” that is some­times used by ter­ror­ist groups as a repos­i­tory for online media storage.

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August 12, 2014 0

ISIS Renews Twitter Campaign Threatening U.S.

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Image tweeted by Al Bat­tar Media

In response to U.S. engage­ment in Iraq, ISIS sup­port­ers have renewed threats on Twit­ter that Amer­i­cans and the U.S. are at risk of attack. Most of the threats are being posted with the hash­tag #AMessageFromISIStoUS.

Although many offi­cial ISIS media out­lets have been deleted from Twit­ter in recent days, the Al Bat­tar Media han­dle, one of ISIS’s offi­cial accounts, has been post­ing threats, with tweets such as “Would you like to taste the losses, pain, death and all what you tasted in Iraq again?” and “O West­ern­ers, your gov­ern­ments have lost their minds, and they will let you pay the cost of their stu­pid­ity, the Islamic State is too strong, so you must yield to it, not fight it!”

An unof­fi­cial pro-ISIS account that tweets infor­ma­tion from Al Bat­tar media has also tweeted such mes­sages as “Lis­ten: All your bases in the Ara­bian Gulf are our tar­gets, and you know what we’ll do with the employ­ees!” “Tar­get­ing Iraq means tar­get­ing Amer­ica and Amer­i­cans in (sic) all over the world!” and “NOW we’re warn­ing the Amer­i­cans NOW our words speak After Airstrikes: We’re cut­ting their heads Our weapons speak!” All were tweet­ed­with the hash­tag #AMessageFromISIStoUS.

The “Shamal­mala­hem Media” han­dle, ded­i­cated to releas­ing pro-ISIS news, has been pref­ac­ing all of its tweets (regard­less of sub­ject) with the mes­sage from ISIS hash­tag or the hash­tag #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS. Its tweets include descrip­tions and video of ISIS fight­ers attack­ing Kur­dish and Iraqi forces, as well as video in which it claims ISIS snipers are “catch­ing the Amer­i­can sol­diers in Iraq.”

Shamal­mala­hem Media has also released an eigh­tand a half minute video addressed “to the peo­ple of the united states (sic) and a mes­sage espe­cially to the (sic) barack obama (sic)” call­ing for the U.S. to remem­ber the destruc­tion it encoun­tered in the sec­ond Iraq war, and to expect worse should troops be sent. The video has since been removed from YouTube  as a vio­la­tion of the company’s policies.

As is typ­i­cal for ISIS social media cam­paigns, mul­ti­ple ISIS sup­port­ers are also tweet­ing var­i­ous threats with the same hash­tags. A num­ber of the sup­port­ers have specif­i­cally directed the threat against New York City, post­ing images of Times Square and of the falling Twin Tow­ers along with the mes­sage “The head of ISIS Sheikh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said: Our appoint­ment in New York.”

This cam­paign is the sec­ond time that ISIS orga­nized a Twit­ter cam­paign threat­en­ing the U.S. The first was in June when the group encour­aged fol­low­ers to tweet using the hash­tag #Calami­ty­Will­Be­fal­lUS, to warn the U.S. against engage­ment in Iraq.  That hash­tag has occa­sion­ally been used in the cur­rent cam­paign as well.

ISIS has become well known for its sophis­ti­cated use of social media even as it is increas­ingly blocked by social media sites.

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