On July 10, 2014, MEMRI published a report titled “Foreign Terrorist Organization Hamas’ Military Wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, Returns To Twitter After Account Shut Down In January.” The report highlighted Al-Qassam Brigades tweets, such as speeches and communiqués by the Hamas political and military leadership, incitement of jihad and martyrdom attacks, and even calls for “a new Holocaust.” Also tweeted were specific “military statistics” – such as “total numbers of the Zionists who were killed and injured.”
Shortly after the report’s release, Twitter removed the account.
Within a week of Twitter’s shutdown of its account, a new Al-Qassam Brigades account, @Qassam_English, was opened. It should be noted that the new account has the group’s name and logo exactly as they were in its previous accounts.
Very shortly after its launch, this account had close to 7,000 followers and had posted over 150 tweets. The account’s description noted that it had been “[f]ormed as protest against suspension of @qassamfeed & @Qassam_Arabic.”
Twitter’s first shutdown of an FTO account was that of the Somali Al-Qaeda group Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahedeen, which tweeted live from the scene during its September 2013 attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1033,MEMRI’s Behind-The-Scenes Role In Twitter’s Shutdown Of Accounts Belonging To Designated Terrorists: The Case Of Al-Qaeda Affiliate Al-Shabaab And The Westgate Mall Attack).
Since it began tweeting on November 21, 2009, Al-Qassam Brigades has used the following Twitter handles, all since shut down: @alqassambrigade; @qassambrigade; @Qassam_Arabic; @qassamfeed; @qassamarabic; @qassamhebrew. It has also used the following individual accounts, which are still operating: @Spokespers; @AqsaTVChannel; @mosa_abumarzook; @izzat_risheq; @isra_jourisra.
Twitter has shut down a number of Hamas’ accounts, including that of the Al-Qassam Brigades, but has left many other accounts belonging to Hamas, as well as to other FTOs, to continue operating. This inconsistent policy shows that Twitter is not serious about obeying the U.S. laws that prohibit it from allowing these entities to use its services, and that it is likewise not overly concerned about enforcing its own Terms of Service, which state that any “person barred from receiving services under the laws of the U.S.” may not hold a Twitter account.
The following are examples of tweets posted on the new Al-Qassam Brigades account: