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Facebook and YouTube still feature Videos by Leading al-Qaeda Jihadis

Google/YouTube labels Ben Shapiro and Dennis Prager “Nazis,” and buries content that portrays Islam in a negative light, even if it’s accurate, but jihad terror preaching is OK with them. Likewise Facebook, which recently agreed to turn over data on “hate speech” suspects to the French government. Since foes of jihad violence and Sharia oppression are routinely defamed as purveyors of “hate speech,” what Facebook is essentially doing by targeting such people while allowing jihadis to post freely is aiding and abetting the global jihad. If free societies and free people survive this sorry age, and an accurate history of it is written, Mark Zuckerberg will be portrayed as the enemy of freedom that he is.

Al Qaeda’s Master Terrorists Are Still on Facebook and YouTube,” by Michael Weiss and Moustafa Ayad, Daily Beast, June 27, 2019:

In 2006, Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish was repatriated to Saudi Arabia from Guantanamo Bay after he’d served more than five years as an enemy combatant for training with al Qaeda, and fighting alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan against the United States. Released as part of the Obama administration’s plans to shutter the offshore prison, Rubaish was admitted to Riyadh’s rather lackluster “deradicalization” program.

Then, sometime in  2009, he escaped the program and Saudi Arabia with 11 other jihadists.  They all turned up in Yemen and Rubaish soon emerged as the mufti, or Islamic jurist, for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) where he spent the next six years appearing in propaganda videos for the group’s media outlet Al-Malahem, as well as releasing a number of fatwas and articles for other al Qaeda outlets including the English-language Inspire magazine.

Rubaish was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2015.  But his ideas and legacy live on through his sermons and speeches, still hosted on Facebook and YouTube.

Rubaish is joined in digital preservation by other leading lights in jihadist proselytization and virtual recruitment such as Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, the strategist behind the expansion of al Qaeda into Yemen, who helped invent what’s now commonly known as the “lone-wolf” terror attack; Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the leader of AQAP and the second-in command to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s global head; and Anwar al-Awlaki, the main cleric for AQAP who is considered by counterterrorism experts to be, even from beyond the grave, one of the primary drivers of those lone-wolf attacks.

Taken together, Rubaish, Suri, Wuhayshi and Awlaki can still be found in 105 videos on both social media platforms, despite corporate avowals that this stuff was fast becoming a thing of the past. Yet we identified the videos through simple searches in Arabic using only the names of these prominent jihadists….

Contacted yesterday, Facebook said it was looking into the videos that we highlighted on its platform; YouTube did not respond to our queries in time for publication….

The most-watched video is his half-hour history on the invasions and subsequent injustices that the Muslim world has faced; it seems to have been recorded somewhere in Europe, as he refers to the “Christian world here in Europe.” Suri has Spanish citizenship and between 1994 and 1996 he lived in the London suburb of Neasden. Following the London bombings of 2005, he released a statement praising the selection of mass transit as a major, legitimate soft target….

RELATED ARTICLE: Boston mayor appoints director of Muslim Brotherhood-linked mosque head of Office for Immigrant Advancement.

RELATED VIDEO: San Francisco: Muslim cleric says Morsi was murdered by Zionist agents who work for Satan.

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Brookings Study of ISIS Twitter Accounts Reveals U.S. among Top Targets

A Brookings Institution examination of a complete data set of 20,000 ISIS Twitter accounts ranked Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and US as the top four locations of twitter users, The ISIS Twitter Census: Defining and Describing the population of ISIS supporters on Twitter. The authors of the ISIS Twitter census are J.M. Berger and Jonathan Morgan.  Berger “is a non-resident fellow with the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at Brookings and the author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam (Potomac Books, 2011) and ISIS: The State of Terror (Ecco, 2015).”  Morgan “is a technologist, data scientist, and startup veteran. He runs technology and product development at CrisisNET, Ushahidi’s streaming crisis data platform, and consults on machine learning and network analysis. Morgan is also co-host of Partially Derivative, a popular data science podcast.”  The Brookings ISIS Twitter project was “commissioned by Google Ideas and published by Brookings”.

The Brookings Saban Middle East Center think tank has had a close relationship with the Obama National Security Council. Use of social media by Islamic extremist groups like ISIS figured prominently in President Obama’s recent, Summit to Counter Violent Extremism. See our March 2015 NER article, ‘Did President Obama’s Violent Extremism Conference Fail?

Notwithstanding the provenance of the Brookings Twitter Census report, the data and methodology are credible and revealing of  how ISIS and supporters use social media.  The authors noted three classes of Twitter users as a precaution interpreting the study results:

Covert supporters of ISIS:

Users who took medium to strong steps to conceal their support due to fear of prosecution or suspension by Twitter. Users who took only casual steps to disguise their support were generally detectable.

Pro-ISIS intelligence operatives:

Some users who follow accounts related to the enemies of ISIS, such as rival jihadists, would be coded as non-supporters under the conservative criteria we employed.

Anti-ISIS intelligence operatives:

These are accounts created to appear as ISIS supporters in order to allow ISIS’s enemies to monitor its activities, which would be coded as supporters (if done effectively).

Brookings ISIS Twitter top locations_jpg SMALL

Locations of ISIS Twitter Accounts. Source: The ISIS Twitter Census, Brookings Institution, 2015.

 Here is the  Twitter Census Data Snapshot drawn from the Brookings study:

Best estimate of total number of overt ISIS supporter accounts on Twitter: 46,000

Maximum estimate of ISIS supporter accounts on Twitter: 90,000

Number of accounts analyzed for demographics information: 20,000

Estimated percentage of overt ISIS supporters in demographics data set: 93.2 percent (+/- 2.54 percent)

Period over which data was collected: October 4 through November 27, 2014, with some seed data collected in late September 2014

Top Locations of Accounts: “Islamic State,” Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, U.S.

Most common year accounts were created: 2014

Most common month accounts were created: September 2014

Number of accounts detected using bots and deceptive spam tactics: 6,216 using bot or spam technology for some tweets; 3,301 accounts were excluded from the Demographics Dataset for primarily sending bot or spam content

Average number of tweets per day per user: 7.3 over lifetime of account, 15.5 over last 200 tweets by user

Average number of tweets per user (Over lifetime of the Account): 2,219

Average number of followers: 1,004

Smartphone usage: 69 percent Android, 30 percent iPhone, 1 percent Blackberry

Among the principal findings from the Brookings Twitter Census were:

  • From September through December 2014, the authors estimate that at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters, although not all of them were active at the same time.
  • Typical ISIS supporters were located within the organization’s territories in Syria and Iraq, as well as in regions contested by ISIS. Hundreds of ISIS-supporting accounts sent tweets with location metadata embedded.
  • Almost one in five ISIS supporters selected English as their primary language when using Twitter. Three quarters selected Arabic.
  • ISIS-supporting accounts had an average of about 1,000 followers each, considerably higher than an ordinary Twitter user. ISIS-supporting accounts were also considerably more active than non-supporting users.
  • A minimum of 1,000 ISIS-supporting accounts were suspended by Twitter between September and December 2014. Accounts that tweeted most often and had the most followers were most likely to be suspended.
  • Much of ISIS’s social media success can be attributed to a relatively small group of hyperactive users, numbering between 500 and 2,000 accounts, which tweet in concentrated bursts of high volume.

Based on their analysis, the authors concluded:

Recommend social media companies and the U.S government work together to devise appropriate responses to extremism on social media. Approaches to the problem of extremist use of social media, Berger and Morgan contend, are most likely to succeed when they are mainstreamed into wider dialogues among the broad range of community, private, and public stakeholders.

Our assessment is that given the close Brookings Middle East Center liaison with the Obama National Security Council and Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, Richard Stengel, the latter tasked with social media counter messaging,  that little follow will occur. That is reflected in Google sponsorship of this Brookings Twitter Census report and overarching concerns of social media like Facebook, Google YouTube, Twitter and  Instagram about maintaining Constitutional guarantees of free speech.  These social media would prefer to establish their own criteria for suspending terrorists and supporters accounts.  Monitoring and development of metadata from  ISIS Twitter supporters in the West, especially in the US and the UK, should be left to counter terrorism intelligence echelons or private groups like SITE Intelligence Group and effective individuals like our colleague Joseph Shahda. Congressional Homeland Security and Select Intelligence Committees should hold hearings and investigations into current terrorist social media surveillance, especially for those US ISIS accounts identified in the Brookings ISIS Twitter Census.  Shahda commented after reading:

The only way to stop the terrorists propaganda and recruitment is to keep shutting down all their means of communications which means all their social media (Facebook, Twitter) accounts as well as their websites.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with graphics originally appeared in the New English Review.