If even your grandmother is on Twitter, you can bet terrorists are too. And that's what got the micro-blogging service in trouble this weekend, as an Israeli legal group threatened to sue Twitter for allowing terrorist organizations such as al-Shabaab and Hezbollah to use its services. "It has come to our attention that Twitter Inc. provides social media and associated services to such foreign terrorist organizations," wrote Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center. "Please be advised that (doing so) is illegal and will expose Twitter Inc. and its officers to both criminal prosecution and civil liability to American citizens and others victimized." The letter doesn't specifically list the accounts of each terrorist tweeter but from the terrorist groups listed, a handful of targets come to mind. What does a Twitter terrorist tweet about, you ask? Here's a look at some of the more known terrorist handles around:
Hamas The Hamas-controlled Twitter account @AlqassamBrigade has a modest 2,840 followers but updates frequently with opinions and links to the Al-Qassam news site. A recent message links to a story about an airstrike on Gaza carried out by "Israeli occupation forces" with no reported injuries. Other tweets commemorate the 'third anniversary of the Zionist war on the Gaza strip" and stories about Israeli settlers attacking a mosque and leaving "racist graffiti."
Taliban Sen. Joe Lieberman has gotten on Twitter's case for allowing Taliban-affiliated Twitter accounts to exist however, the Israel Law Center did not raise the issue of the Taliban as it would not hold the same legal muster. As The Telegraph noted in December, "Twitter reportedly rebuffed his call on grounds that the Taliban is not officially designated as Foreign Terrorist Organisation by the State Department. The firm has previously signalled its commitment to free speech by arguing that “the tweets must flow” and only shutting down accounts following a violation of its terms of service, such as impersonating someone else or harrassing other users."
One of the more amusing Twitter spats involving a Taliban-affiliated account happened in November between @ABalkhi and @ISAFmedia, the press office for the coalition forces' International Security Assistance Force. As CNN reported:
ISAF's twitterer replied: "@ABalkhi - Dumb dumb? How the dialogue elevates.
Look: Nobody takes you seriously. Everything you type is wrong. Just. Stop."
The Taliban affiliate replied: "@ISAFmedia - That's why they picked you for this job. If I wasnt here, you wouldnt have a job."
Other militant Twitter handles in Afghanistan include
@alemarahweb and @alsomood. Giving a rundown of what you generally see on Taliban twitter accounts, Ben Farmer at The Telegraph writes "The information has ranged from highly accurate, up-to-the-minute accounts of unfolding spectacular attacks, to often completely fabricated or wildly exaggerated reports of American and British casualties." The accounts "regularly feature tweeted boasts about the deaths of "cowardly invaders" and "puppet" Afghan government forces.
Al-Shabaab Al-Shabaab's Somalia-based Twitter account @HSMPress, boasts almost 8,000 followers and is written entirely in English with some of the more punchy language you'll see. "With the institution of Islamic Shari’ah, there hasn’t been a single unlawful killing in
#Baladweyne since Mujahideen captured city in 2009," reads a recent tweet. In the past, the account has been cognizant of Western attempts to shut it down, as Mashable reported last month. "Many of their tweets emphasize the group’s fight against the Kenyan military, who entered Somalia in October to battle the Shabab. The Obama administration’s concern, however, is recruitment of new militants." By its tweets, the account owner appears to be unfazed by any threats to shut it down.