Brookings Study of ISIS Twitter Accounts Reveals US among Top Locations

Forbes _ISIS_Twitter_ statista  graphicNER, by Jerry Gordon, March 9, 2015:

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).

twitter_location2

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, US

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.

Also see:

Report: Anti-ISIS Propaganda Head Tied to Muslim Brotherhood

AP748496654624-640x480Breitbart, by EDWIN MORA, 17 Feb 2015:

The Obama administration is revamping its efforts to combat Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) propaganda. ISIS and its supporters produce “as many as 90,000 tweets and other social media responses every day,” reports The New York Times.

An empowered Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, currently a small component of the U.S. State Department, will spearhead the new campaign to fight the ISIS propaganda machine.

Rashad Hussain, a Muslim American with close ties to the White House, will replace Alberto Fernandez, the center’s director, according to The Times.

Hussain, who has reportedly participated in events linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, currently serves as Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He will take over when Fernandez retires in April.

“Hussain, a devout Muslim, has a history of participating in events connected with the Muslim Brotherhood,” reported Cal Thomas in an article published by Townhall.

Citing Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef magazine, The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that Hussain “maintained close ties with people and groups that [the magazine] says comprise the Muslim Brotherhood network in America.”

Some critics describe Hussain as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. He is not a confirmed member of the group.

An added component called the Information Coordination Cell will be part of the newly revamped center.

It will be “staffed by intelligence and Pentagon analysts among others” and “will be responsible for the broader coordination functions.”

“Skeptics of the new [anti-propaganda] campaign voiced concerns that the program is an attempt by the White House to end a long-simmering turf war with the counterterrorism center’s director, Alberto Fernandez, and exercise more control over the kinds of messages that are produced and coordinated with domestic and international partners,” notes The Times.

“Other officials questioned whether even a newly empowered center at the State Department would be up to the task. Operating the center on a shoestring budget of about $5 million a year, Mr. Fernandez, a respected Middle East specialist and career Foreign Service officer, and his supporters have long complained that neither the State Department nor the White House fully supported or properly financed the center’s activities,” the article adds.

The Obama administration plans “to harness all the existing attempts at counter-messaging by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies,” explains The Times.

The Times added:

The center would also coordinate and amplify similar messaging by foreign allies and nongovernment agencies, as well as by prominent Muslim academics, community leaders and religious scholars who oppose the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, and who may have more credibility with ISIS’ target audience of young men and women than the American government.

About 80 people will staff the newly-empowered center.

“We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content,” Richard A. Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, said on Monday, NYT reports.

He admitted that anti-ISIS propaganda efforts by the Obama administration “could have been better coordinated,” adds the article.

In its arsenal, the U.S. government has “more than 350 State Department Twitter accounts, combining embassies, consulates, media hubs, bureaus and individuals, as well as similar accounts operated by the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department and foreign allies,” points out The Times.

The report points out that the details of the campaign are still in the works, but Obama officials are expected to reveal “broad outlines” of the effort during a summit sponsored by the White House.

Starting on Tuesday, the White House is hosting a three-day summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” to “highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence.”

The White House did not mention “Islamic extremism” in announcing the event. It has not fully revealed who will participate in the summit.

Hussain’s attendance to Muslim Brotherhood-linked events was defended by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross in an article that appeared in The Long War Journal.

Also see:

Islamic State: The French Connection

December 15, 2014 / ISIS Study Group /

Background

This section provides a brief recap of radicalized Islamic French citizens involved in terrorism. This will lead into more current events involving French citizens in the on going conflict with the Islamic State.  France has an estimated 700-900 citizens that have or are participating in Syria or Iraq.

Keep in mind that the Islamic State evolved from Al Qaeda in Iraq, which became Islamic State of Iraq, then Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Levant) and finally re-branding itself as the Islamic State in order to legitimize itself.

France has been no stranger to the world of Islamic terrorism. Early on in Operation Iraqi Freedom several French citizens had been killed or killed themselves in suicide attacks against US forces in Iraq. Abdelhalim Badjoudj carried out a suicide bombing with a car filled with explosives in an SVBIED attack on October 20, 2004. The attack took place on the airport road in Baghdad wounding two US soldiers and two Iraqi police officers. Abdelhalim’s friend, Redouane el-Hakim was identified as an insurgent killed in Fallujah after an airstrike in 2004, during the Battle of Fallujah, when a combined force of approximately 18,500 troops from the US, Iraq and UK conducted clearing operations there. Another French citizen by the name of Tarek Ouinis was killed in the Sunni Triangle during a firefight with US troops. Redouane al-Hakim’s older brother was also arrested in Syria before he could enter Iraq.

France’s Islamic terrorist ties also stretch beyond the Iraq/Syria conflict area to the Far East in Indonesia.  An Islamic boarding school, Al-Mukmin (Ngruki) in Surakarta, is believed to be tied to terror incidents in Paris and Toulouse in March of 2012. Three French nationals were planning to seek refuge at that school after the attacks. One of the French nationals was Frederic C. Jean Salvi who has links to the network responsible for the shootings that took seven lives in Toulouse.  One French national, Mohammed Merah, was shot dead in the Toulouse incident.

The Ngruki boarding school was founded by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir who is serving a 15 year sentence for organizing a terror camp in Aceh. The boarding school is also connected to the 2002 Bali bombing. Salvi’s terror group is suspected in two bombings in the vicinity of the Indonesian embassy in Paris. Once took place in 2004 and another took place in March 2012. According to Asianet News the attack by Salvi’s group was to warn Indonesia to stop arresting and imprisoning Muslims.

Salvi has ties to Al Ghuroba which has been active since 1999 and is a study group for Indonesian students in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Arab countries. This connection introduced Salvi to Ba’asyir.

France’s Islamic terrorists are in Africa as well which is of significant importance to the Islamic State.  Recently, Morocco arrested four French nationals suspected of connections to Islamic terrorist groups. The men were arrested in Marrakesh and Laayoune. There are many ties to France and Islamic groups in the Islamic Maghreb because many of these countries are former French colonies such as Algeria and Mali.

A former French nuclear physicist was on trial for accusations he was plotting attacks with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Adlene Hicheur was sentenced to five years after corresponding with a presumed member of AQIM by the name of Mustapha Debchi. Some of the exchanged messages were said to be encrypted.

In the recent video of the beheading of former US Army Ranger Peter Kassig, along with 18 Syrian pilots, showed two individuals that are identified as French citizens taking part in the beheadings. Each beheaded one of the pilots while the infamous “Jihadi John” beheaded Peter Kassig. One of these individuals is identified as former Normandy resident Maxime Hauchard. The second individual was a resident of Paris and identified as Abu Othman (Michael Dos Santos).  Maxime Hauchard had traveled to Syria in 2013 as part of a humanitarian mission.

We have pointed out in several articles that individuals joining the jihad often travel through Turkey posing as aid workers where they slip across the border into Syria with the aid convoys and then break away to join the Islamic State. This requires some coordination to find a “fixer” which is usually done through social media. The “fixer” helps connect the wannabe jihadist up to a “sponsor” that gets them to their Islamic State destination. This “fixer” may or may not be part of the aid groups working through Turkey to deliver aid.

The French town of Lunel has had 20 or more of its citizens leave for the conflict in Syria over the past several months.  Two of these citizens were recently killed in the fight for the airport in Der al-Zur. They were identified as Karim and Hamza. Karim was married and a business owner. Hamza was a young man from a devout Muslim family.

More recently, the Islamic State used suicide bombers against the Shiite militia Badr Organization (sometimes referred to as Badr Brigade) near the city of Samarra.  Abu Anas al-Firansi, a French citizen, was one of the three suicide bombers used in a series of attacks.

In the above image, Abu Anas al-Firansi (far left) of France was killed during a suicide bombing in Iraq while fighting for the Islamic State. Source: The Long War Journal

In the above image, Abu Anas al-Firansi (far left) of France was killed during a suicide bombing in Iraq while fighting for the Islamic State. Source: The Long War Journal

Two French citizens were identified as participating in the execution of Syrian pilots in the Islamic State’s video release when it executed Peter Kassig.

French terrorists

How individuals are recruited

Many of the individuals recruited from France are engaged through either social media or through contacts at local mosques or Islamic Centers. The individuals that do the recruiting are not always a direct part of the facilities as staff, but may be there for a specific period of time, such as guest speakers, before moving to another location. This keeps them from being identified by law enforcement but also gives them sufficient time to establish contacts in an area to identify spotters. Spotters work through direct contact or social media.

The Spotters:  These people are tasked with actively looking for targets for jihad or support work. They may work through social media such as Facebook, Diaspora, Twitter and the like. The Muslim slums in France are areas ripe for recruitment, however, spotters work across the social spectrum looking for disenfranchised individuals. Their specific job is to monitor as many local postings as they can.

Spotters may engage the individual or may simply monitor their posts and then pass this off to the recruiter who will eventually pass the individual off to a “fixer” that links them up with jihadist in the Turkish border area with Syria. As we have pointed out in other articles, Turkey’s border region is a major gateway for jihadists into Syria and Iraq. The spotter will identify those that posts things that are anti-Western or very pro-Islamic particularly those that mention jihad. Spotters will also search through the individual’s connections/friends to find any common links or connections to jihadists already in country to provide common ground. The spotter may use a “dummy” account, which is basically a shell account with some base information so if they lose it they don’t lose their personal information and it keeps their own personal information private from authorities.

If the spotter makes direct contact with the individual they will start out with trivial things to start building the relationship moving it towards the Islamic faith and slowly progressing it towards jihad selling the Islamic State as a “brotherhood” of the faithful fighting the injustice in the Muslim world. This could be accelerated in some cases and slower in others. The Muslim slums in France are ideal places for spotters to use social media, but spotters can also be real-time instead of online.  On the downside, they lose their anonymity if they are in person spotters and run more risk of being spotted themselves. The slums are saturated with disenfranchised individuals and multiple individuals from the OIF period and present period that have been involved in the Syria/Iraq conflict area have come from these areas. There are exceptions that come from wealthier families, but many of these find their way into higher levels of the Islamic State.  They may fill positions that aren’t as involved in the fighting. Some, however, do become very involved in fighting or other violent measures.

Once the spotter has identified the individual for potential recruitment the individual is developed by the actual recruiter.

The Recruiters:  Once the spotter has made an assessment and contacted the recruiter with the individual’s information the recruiter will then further the assessment. The recruiter again goes through motivations the individual has for becoming involved in jihad. The recruiter will also make further assessments of the individual’s abilities and usefulness. For example if the individual has technical capabilities such as computer skills they may be developed for potential spots in Al Hayat Media Center or Al Furqan Media Foundation or the publishing house of Al-Himma Library. If they have prior military or medical skills they may be directed to the appropriate department for further assessment. The recruiter is working the same as somebody conducting a job interview would. Some of this is skill assessment, but it is also as a security measure to trip up law enforcement should they be suspected of being one. Once the recruiter is satisfied with the legitimacy of the individual as well as their potential skill sets a fixer is contacted.

The Fixer: Once the individual is well vetted by the recruiter he is then put in contact with the Fixer and travel arrangements are made.  The fixer is generally located in Turkey in places like Hatay, Gaziantep or similar border areas. Sometimes the travel is set up as tourism but may also be set up through aid groups. Multiple individuals that have become involved in the Syrian conflict have traveled there in the guise of an aid worker. This has been happening since the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom as well. Once the individual arrives in Turkey they travel to the border area.  Travel is usually taking local transportation and paying cash in order to avoid being traced. Some of these individuals intend to return to France and avoiding being tracked helps prevent jihadist suspicions. Once in the specified area contact will be made in the prescribed manner set out by the fixer prior to arrival in country. The fixer will likely have security spotters to monitor the individuals approach to the meet site to see if they have been followed or have brought any sort of authorities.

Upon tendering his “bona fides” the fixer will then assist the jihadist in purchasing equipment for use in the conflict. This equipment will include any number of things such as comfort items and military type gear or weapons. There will also be some instructional time with the fixer on basic do’s and don’ts. The fixer will also explain the border crossing process and where the recruit will be going for their initial contact with the jihadists in Syria. Once this has been done the fixer will then move the individual to the particular border crossing location.

On the Syrian side of the border a small group will await the arrival of the recruit and transport them to whichever location has been designated. Once they arrive in their designated area of assignment they will be placed. Placement is done based off what was assessed in the recruitment stage, but may change once at the final destination.

The graphic below shows a flow of how the process works, but keep in mind that people can be recruited without ever having stepped foot into a mosque or an Islamic Center.  Social media has greatly increased and refined the recruiting process and this is also why the Islamic State is a global problem and not just a regional problem.

France-Recruitment

In the following CNN video it talks about French jihadists joining the Islamic State in Syria:

 

Assessment: France has had a large Islamic immigration issue that started in the 1970’s and increased dramatically driving the population in the Islamic community to about 7-12% of the country’s entire population. This has led France to have the highest Muslim population in Western Europe. The French city of Marseille, France’s second largest city, has a 30-40% Muslim population and will likely become the first major city to have a Muslim majority. France has had a lot of strain placed on its social system by this immigration which has caused the creation of the so called Muslim slums. These slums will continue to be ripe recruiting pools for the Islamic State as well as other Islamic extremist groups including Al Qaeda, AQAP and AQIM. AQIM may get a particular boost since it has a lot of potential with those that immigrated from the Maghreb portion of Africa to France.

One of the issues that France faces in combating this problem is similar to that in the United States and other nations where individual freedoms are important to the citizens of the nation. Trying to balance free speech, individual liberties, security and other issues is difficult to put it mildly. Democracies want to maintain those freedoms, but at the same time ensure the security of their citizens without becoming an authoritarian state. The French government may want to review its own immigration policies as well as better engagement with influential imams within France to curb their rhetoric that is preached to young Muslims. This is probably one of the biggest issues because without defeating the ideology the confrontation is an endless cycle of violence.

France may also want to discourage or suspend travel to Turkey. Turkey remains one of the flood gates for foreign fighters entering the conflict. France should also be pressuring Turkey along with the United States and other nations for Turkey to do a better job at sealing its border to prevent foreign fighters from entering Syria. This has been a huge issue that the United States has attempted to do with some international support, but more weight must be brought to bear on the Turkish government which still believes the FSA is the answer to toppling Bashar al-Assad and destroying the Islamic State. The problem with that has been a large number of the FSA fighters have either defected to Islamic State, Al Nusra Front or other jihadist groups, have cooperated with them or are just not competent enough to win major battles against the stronger jihadist groups.

The problems France is facing is similar to those being experienced in many European countries. It is also happening on a smaller scale in the United States. Immigrants should conform to the nation’s to which they move not the other way around. Allow free speech, but also crackdown on those that are preaching for Muslims to join jihad. Eventually, these citizens will come back home as we’ve already seen in this article. Some of these returning citizens will likely carry out some form of an attack sometime after they return.

Islamist Terrorists Shifting from Web to Social Media

AP453232788832-540x360By Bill Gertz:

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are grappling with terrorists who are moving from websites to microblogs as a way to spread propaganda, recruit members, and communicate.

U.S. officials familiar with efforts to monitor social media say Islamist terrorists have increased their use of social media in recent months.

Currently, numerous U.S. and allied intelligence agencies are engaged in large-scale efforts to monitor online activities by Islamists, jihadists, and terrorists.

Based on those agencies’ reports, the intelligence services are having a difficult time balancing the need to keep track of terrorist group members and their statements when the Twitter and Facebook accounts are shut down for advocating violence or otherwise promoting illegal activities.

On the one hand, spy agencies want social media to allow some of the terrorists’ Twitter and Facebook accounts to remain open to keep tabs on them. The postings often can provide clues to online friends’ and followers’ locations and in some cases they can be traced electronically.

In most cases, terrorists’ accounts that are closed or suspended for advocating violence are quickly re-opened using slightly different names.

But problems arise when social media accounts used by terrorists are taken offline, complicating real-time intelligence monitoring. In many cases it takes up to 18 hours to locate the new accounts that reappear under new names.

“They often come to us and say ‘do not take down these accounts,’” one social media executive said of the U.S. government.

The problem of counterterrorism monitoring of social media took center stage last month during the attack by the Somali al Qaeda Al Shabaab on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya. In the midst of the deadly attack, which killed 68 shoppers and storekeepers, Al Shabaab opened multiple Twitter accounts, each replacing one that was deactivated by the site.

In all, the group operated seven Twitter accounts that were closed before another was opened.

The social media communications by Al Shabaab were the first time a terrorist group made public statements during an ongoing attack. The messages by the group were mainly propaganda statements explaining the goals of the attack. But all were closely followed by international news media and security services for clues to the group’s plans and operations.

read more at Free Beacon

 

Cyber Jihadists, State Department Now In Full-Blown Twitter War

 fsgfdsdf118900428FP, By Will McCants:

Since 2011, the State Department has sponsored a Digital Outreach Team tasked with countering al Qaeda propaganda on the Internet. In its brief existence, it’s difficult to quantify the team’s progress (and easy to laugh at its failures), but there’s one thing it is doing successfully: Making the right enemies.

The Digital Outreach Team (DOT) is part of the larger Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an interagency center housed at the State Department with a presidential mandate to subvert al Qaeda’s online outreach efforts (full disclosure: I helped set up the DOT’s current operations while at the State Department). The Center and the DOT venture on Twitter is relatively new and until now elicited little more than scorn from jihadi tweeters. But this month, it started to make some serious waves.

On July 17, a prominent jihadi on Twitter, Mu`awiya al-Qahtani (M_Al_Saqr), established a new Twitter account @Al_Bttaar whose mission is a mirror image of the Digital Outreach Team’s. Whereas the DOT aims to counter jihadi propaganda and discredit its promulgators using social media, @Al_Bttaar aims to spread that propaganda and silence its detractors. Now, there is reason to believe the @Al_Bttaar initiative is a direct response to the DOT’s activities: not only is it patterned after the DOT, its opening salvo was directed against one of the DOT’s tweeters, Tariq Ramzi (@dsdotar).

The DOT first provoked complaints from jihadis after crashing mainstream forums and casting their form of radical Islam in a negative light.  The day after @Al_Bttaar’s inaugural tweets, the group organized its first Twitter “raid,” an effort to take down the State Department’s account. Themethod was pretty simple: Just click the “report” button multiple times until a Twitter administrator removes the account.

Five minutes after passing out the instructions, the administrator posted the address of @dsdotar. Although there was spotty information during the attack on how it was going, @Al_Bttaarannounced the following day that it had failed. The administrator attributed the failure to the lack of participation — only 150 people reported the enemy account, short of the goal of 400 — and to the fact that people had followed the account before reporting it. (In a moment of internal bickering: one of the group’s followers noted that it was the administrator’s themselves who had recommended following the account.)

@Al_Bttaar has since moved on to conduct several attacks against other Twitter users, all of whom are Arabs who have displeased them in one way or the other.Few of them have been successful but that has not dampened the group’s enthusiasm or that of its now 1,570 followers. In one of its latest tweets, it promises even more action in the days to come.

So far, @Al_Bttaar’s efforts on Twitter are pretty small scale, which could also be said of the DOT’s activities. Part of the reason is resources: there are not many jihadis or counter-jihadis. But another reason is that both sides realize that this influence game is not about swaying large numbers of people but rather persuading just a few to join or turn away. Seen in this light, @Al_Bttaar’s antics probably have less to do with actually silencing its enemies than it does with attracting enthusiastic new followers who like its aggressive approach.

Will McCants is an analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses and a former State Department senior advisor for countering violent extremism.

 

Dr. Ali Alyami: Critical Changes in Saudi Arabia

Dr. Ali Alyami

Dr. Ali Alyami

By Clare Lopez

Dr. Ali Alyami, a U.S. citizen who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, is the courageous founder and executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia (CDHR).

CDHR is a small, non-profit organization established in 2004 to “emphasize the importance of empowering the Saudi people (both men and women) through peaceful democratic reforms without which the country will continue to be ruled by a constellation of autocratic and theocratic men who have tremendous influence that can be and has been used to crush the aspirations of the people, to blackmail the international community, or to plunge it into religious and economic pandemonium.”

Clarion Senior Fellow Clare Lopez (who is also a CDHR Board member) recently interviewed Dr. Alyami on the critical changes taking place in Saudi Arabia and especially focused on the evolving role of women in the conservative Kingdom.

Clare Lopez: Dr. Alyami, how is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia changing, even as the first generation of Saudi family rulers passes away?

Dr. Ali Alyami: Like all societies, the Saudi people have been deeply affected by modernity and its fast evolving demands. Despite the Saudi autocratic and theocratic ruling elites’ severe censorship of all forms of information and depictions of social, political and educational evolutions as the infidel’s conspiracy, the flow of uncontrollable information exposed the Saudi people to the international community, different lifestyles, democratic systems, women’s participation in national life, freedom of expression, dress codes and everything in between.

The most effective game changer is the social media of which the Saudis, young and old, religious and liberals, men and women are frequent users. Social media have enabled the Saudi population to communicate with each other for the first time in their lives. This alone is changing the Saudi people’s perceptions of themselves and of each other. They are finding out that the system is dividing them along religious, gender, ethnic and regional lines in order to manipulate them and prevent them from achieving national unity and identity. They are finding out that they have common grievances that are caused by the same source, the Saudi/Wahhabi ruling dynasties and their rigid and rigidly controlled institutions.

There is no segment in Saudi society that has been more affected by modernity than Saudi women. After being marginalized in the name of Allah and Islam, many of them became educated in schools, from traveling, listening to news and watching satellite TV channels. They are learning how to organize, question male authority and reject the clerics’ teachings and interpretation of religion. In short, they are changing Saudi society in ways men could not or were not willing to do. They are using the system to assert themselves and demand their legitimate rights.

Lopez: Are the successors of that first generation – the second and third generations – very different in their outlook on Islam and the world?

Alyami: The second and third royal generations are very different from their fathers and grandfathers. They grew up with all the things that modernity has to offer. They did not live in mud palaces like their parents during the early stages of their lives and they did not have to embrace the nomadic traditions which their fathers had to do in order to appease the public and keep them under control.

Many of the second and more so, the third generation, were born to non-Saudi mothers who introduced them to a different way of life that often clashes with Saudi traditions and way of life. Like their counterparts in society, royals grew up with and use modern technologies to communicate with each other and with those in society who dare to engage them in sensitive issues such as royal corruption, exploitation, oppression and the economic gaps between the royals and the disenfranchised masses. All of this led to a gradual disconnect from the past, religion and a new perception of the world around them.

Lopez: What are the signs of reform and modernization that you see inside Saudi Arabia today?

Alyami: Beside modern infrastructure, the most obvious signs of changes in Saudi Arabia are the number of educated women and their demands to be included and counted. As noted above, they are changing the country. The Arabian Peninsula was isolated from the world for centuries. This is partially due to lack of incentives for anyone to go there, but partially the system did not want the populace to be exposed to new ideas, different ways of lives, non-religious (non-Wahhabism) information and people of other faiths whom the Saudi/Wahhabi ruling men consider dirty (“pigs”) and unbelievers. The system has embarked upon projects, albeit cosmetic, it once considered the inventions of the infidels to divide people and turn them against authority. An example of this is the 2005 municipal elections from which women were barred.

Read more at Radical Islam

Facebook Targets Hizbullah, Shuts Down its TV Network’s Page

Arutz Sheva:

Facebook shuts down pages created by Hizbullah Al-Manar television, says it’s because Hizbullah is a designated terror organization.

 

Facebook pages created by the Hizbullah terror group’s Al-Manar television station have been removed from the site, the Lebanese Daily Star reported on Thursday.

According to the report, the decision by the social networking website to halt activity connected with Hizbullah was made because the group appears on the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

“Under our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities we do not allow content that incites violence,” Frederic Wolens, a Facebook spokesperson, was quoted as having said. “And to help keep our site safe, we use the State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations to help make determinations of which groups may be involved in the promotion of violence. Due to Hizbullah’s appearance on the list, they have been removed from the site.”

Wolens said this extended to Al-Manar, whose official page was not accessible Thursday. A Hizbullah community page was also down, although a spokesperson for the group told the Daily Star the group has never had an official page.

Several weeks ago, Apple Inc. removed an application that Hizbullah was advertising on the iTunes store promoting streaming video from Al-Manar.

The app, which had been advertised on the air by Al-Manar, directed users to various broadcast content, including speeches by Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised Apple Inc. for its decision, saying, “As the media arm of the terrorist group Hizbullah, Al-Manar is a source for anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda and messages of hate and violence. We commend Apple for removing the app from the iTunes store and appreciate their vigilance in ensuring that terrorist-affiliated organizations will not have access to Apple’s customers.”

On Thursday, according to the Daily Star, the Al-Manar website offered an alternative way to download its app “following the campaign carried out by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to deactivate Al-Manar applications on smartphones at Google Play and Apple store.”

Last week, the United States imposed a new round of penalties against Syria that included Hizbullah, due to its providing support to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The U.S. Treasury said that the Lebanese terror group, designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization in 1995, has been providing training and extensive logistical support to Syria’s government.

The Hizbullah leadership claimed this week that its missiles can now reach all of Israeli territory.

Speaking at a ceremony in southern Lebanon, Nabil Ka’uk announced from the podium that “Hizbullah rockets can reach all Israeli settlements,” referring to Israeli towns and cities.

Video:

Lebanese TV report: MEMRI responsible for ban of Hizbullah TV from social networks and apps

First Fox News, now Twitter. Saudis pursue “Information Jihad.”

Praise Allah!  Saudi prince invests $300 million in US company Twitter.
Saudi Royal Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will soon be a household name.
 
 
 
Twitter sells $300 million stake to Saudi with terrorist ties.
It had to happen sooner or later, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. Everything will soon feel the influence of The Islamic Plague.

 
It just disappoints me that so many outstanding US companies are feeling the need to “sell their Souls to Allah” to get the next “zero” on their bottom line.
 
Reported in Fox News this evening is the story that Twitter has sold  3.6% stake — $300 million dollars — to Saudi Royal Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
 
Now I’m going to tell you why we, as Americans, should be concerned with this news, and it doesn’t have anything to do with “Islamphobia.”
 
 
In an effort to get a piece of the next-generation of Internet companies, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal unveiled a $300 million investment in privately held social-media company Twitter.  Based on estimates that Twitter is worth $8.4 billion, Prince Alwaleed’s stake translates to a 3.6% investment in the company.
 
Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact,” Prince Alwaleed said in a statement.
Sure thing, Prince.  Especially when they are US-based companies directly involved in the flow of information.  I haven’t gotten to the scary part yet.  It’s coming. 

Headquartered in San Francisco, Twitter lets users post short messages of 140 characters or less known as “Tweets.” According to Twitter, the service has 100 million active users sending out 250 million Tweets per day.

Prince Alwaleed has investments in a number of media and entertainment companies, including FOX Business parent News Corp. (NWSA: 16.75, -0.23, -1.35%). He owns 95% of Kingdom Holding Company and is worth $19.6 billion, making him the richest man in Saudi Arabia, according to Forbes.

We believe that social media will fundamentally change the media industry landscape in the coming years. Twitter will capture and monetize this positive trend,” said Ahmed Halawani, Kingdom Holding Company’s executive director of private equity and international investments.

 
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Now I’m going to tell you why having this prince in control of our social and communications media is such a scary and disturbing prospect.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is the brother of Prince Khaled bin Talal, an admitted Islamic Terrorist Financier.  And while it might be unfair to judge one brother by the actions of the other, it is obvious — by both deed and word — the apple does not fall far from the tree.In 2002, Al-Waleed donated $27 million dollars to the families of Palestinians during a TV telethon following Israeli operations in the West Bank city of Jenin. The telethon was ordered by Saudi King Fahd to help relatives of “Palestinian martyrs.”

As we remember, 2002 was during the period of the “Second Intifada” (Al-Aqsa Intifada). More than 1,100 Israeli’s were killed by the very same “Palestinian martyrs” that the co-owner of Fox News Channel saw fit to reward financially as “victims of Israeli aggression and occupation.”

In 2005, Al-Waleed gave an interview boasting that he had called Fox to complain about coverage of the “Muslim riots” in France. He said he “called as a viewer” and “convinced them to change” the coverage because “they were not Muslim riots but riots against poverty and inequality.” And “they changed” the coverage, the Saudi reportedly said.

The fact that 99.99% of the participants in the riots were Muslim apparently made no difference. The fact that they carried signs advocating Islamic extremism made no difference either. When you are the co-owner of Fox News Channel, you know you can have Rupert Murdoch on speed-dial.

Read the rest at Deny Islam