Edward Snowden, the former contractor who leaked thousands of NSA documents, opened a Twitter account on September 29, 2015. Snowden often tweets about surveillance and encryption – two areas of interest to which jihadis and their supporters pay close attention. Many loyal to either Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch Jabhat-Al Nusra (JN) or to ISIS follow Snowden’s account. Some retweet his tips or engage him directly by asking questions. Snowden’s impact on the tactics and methods of terrorist groups is notable. Al-Qaeda has changed their method of communications following Snowden’s disclosures. Prior to the leaks, the group’s English-language magazine Inspire encouraged interested parties to contact the magazine’s editors via an encrypted software, and via email. The 12th issue of the magazine stated that due to technical and security reasons, the normal methods of outreach were temporarily suspended. Additionally, Snowden was lauded for his acts in the same issue. He was also praised in the third issue of the Taliban’s English-language magazine Azan, which was released in August 2013. At the time of this writing Snowden’s account contains 129 tweets and has 1.49 million followers.
On October 13 an ISIS supporter named Ali Al Amrikini asked Snowden: “Good afternoon boss! Did you really say that ISIS works with USA? I hope you can clear it. Thank you…” Ali Al Amrikini’s Twitter avatar is of British rapper turned ISIS fighter Abdel Majed Abdel Bary. The user’s background banner is a picture of Anjem Choudary, a radical London-based British preacher who openly promotes the Islamic State.
Screenshot Showing ISIS and JN members and supporters following Snowden
A JN fighter named Abu Sufyan al-Libi retweeted Snowden tweet from October 11 that included an illustrative graphic. The tweet reads: “For those asking how tracking phones and wireless devices (your laptop) from a plane works.” Snowden shared a link to an article in this tweet.
The full text of this report is available to MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor Subscribers.
Subscription information is available at this link.
JTTM subscribers can visit this page to view the report.