Foreign Terrorist Organization Hamas’ Military Wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, Returns To Twitter After Account Shut Down In January

July 10, 2014

Introduction

MEMRI was the first to draw attention to Hamas’ multiple Twitter accounts, including that of the Al-Qassam Brigades, and has led the efforts to persuade Twitter to shut down accounts of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and of Designated Terrorists, organizations, and individuals.

On December 29, 2011, MEMRI released a report titled Hamas Tweets For Jihad and Martyrdom, For Expelling and Killing Jews, and For Conquering Jerusalem – Another U.S.-Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Served By Using Twitter. The report included information on Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and its affiliates, and on how they are using Twitter and social media to spread their messages and propaganda.

One of the Hamas subsidiaries on which the report focused was its military arm – The Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades – and its activity on Twitter. The U.S. State Department has included the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades under Hamas’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Following the release of the aforementioned report, MEMRI published several more reports on the online activity of Hamas and other FTOs.

The following report covers Twitter’s closure of multiple Al-Qassam Brigades accounts and sets out the group’s current Twitter activity – which includes four accounts in multiple languages – in addition to other Hamas accounts.


Al-Qassam Brigades Tweets

As reported in December 2011 by MEMRI, Al-Qassam Brigades tweets include speeches and communiqués by the Hamas political and military leadership, excerpts from the Koran to incite jihad and martyrdom attacks, and links to YouTube videos inciting to violence, and even calls for “a new Holocaust.”

Also tweeted are specific “military statistics” including the number of jihadist and martyrdom operations by Hamas – such as “the total number of the Zionists who were killed and injured by our hands reached to (7767)” and the number of “shelled targets by Al-Qassam Brigades of Zionists with homemade projectiles.” It also tweets numbers of Al-Qassam martyrs and of “Zionist soldiers” killed by the group, and tweets calls for abducting Israelis, announcements of missiles and mortars fired at Israel, claims of responsibility for terror attacks, and more.

Another tweet stated: “Hamas calls for forming Arab army to liberate O[ccupied] Jerusalem” and linked to the Al-Qassam web page, where a press release by Hamas was featured. The press release stated: “The Palestinian refugees in Arab countries at the vanguard of this army and called on the Arab countries witnessing the Arab spring to take the lead in creating the atmosphere and starting preparatory steps for the formation of this army. The first of these steps i[s] to form Al-Quds brigade in each of these Arab countries and invite Palestinian refugees to take part in it.” The press release concluded, “We are confident that the battle for liberating Jerusalem has become closer than ever, and we are promised an imminent victory by God.”

“Zahar: Jews will soon be expelled from Palestine” was another tweet that linked to the Al-Qassam website; it also linked to a post on a speech by a Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar. The post stated: “Al-Zahar says Jews were kicked out by France, Britain, Russia and Germany ‘because they betrayed, stole and corrupted these countries.’ The Jews will soon be expelled from Palestine that same way they were kicked out by France, Britain, Belgium, Russia, and Germany. […] But they have no place here amongst us because of their crimes. They will soon be expelled from here and we will pray at the Aqsa Mosque [in Jerusalem].”

“Hamas & the Islamic Jihad ‘the heart of the resistance'” was a tweet by the Al-Qassam Brigades which included a link to a speech by Islamic Jihad leader in Syria Ramadan Shallah, in which he said, “[T]he slogan of all should be that Israel must be wiped out of existence.”

Twitter Shuts Down Al-Qassam Brigades Twitter Account

According to the Al-Qassam Brigades, in early January 2014, without warning, Twitter suspended its account. A statement on the group’s website said: “Twitter has recently suspended the account of al-Qassam Brigades without any warning Thursday, January 9th, 2014. A notification sent to Al Qassam’s Twitter account read. ‘Your account @AlqassamBrigades is currently suspended.’​ The Qassam Brigades confirmed that they did not violate Twitter’s terms of service ever, asserting that reason behind the suspension is Twitter subordination to US government and ‘Israel’ as usual… The Qassam Brigades strongly condemned the act and asserted on right to freedom of speech and expression and media.”[1]

It should be noted that Al-Qassam maintained several accounts, in the anticipation of the shutdown of one or more of them; it was prepared so that there would be no interruption of its online message. For example, when @qassambrigade and @alqassambrigade were shut down, @qassamfeed operated in their stead.

New Al-Qassam Brigades Twitter Account

The current Al-Qassam Brigades Twitter account, @qassamfeed, has, as of this writing, posted 1,151 tweets. It has been used for issuing threats against Israel; listing its attacks on Israel; outreach to worldwide media outlets and followers; disseminating the group’s propaganda; and reporting on Israeli military activities. It also includes sophisticated infographics.

Other Al-Qassam Twitter Accounts

In addition to its main English-language Twitter account, Al-Qassam also has accounts in Arabic and in Hebrew; it also maintains one belonging to its official spokesman.

Qassam Arabic (@Qassam_Arabic)

This account was created on December 10, 2012; as of this writing, it had 29,500 followers and had posted 7,129 tweets.

Qassam Brigade Spokesman’s Twitter Account (@Spokespers)

This account was created on September 3, 2009; as of this writing, it had 29,000 followers and had posted 108 tweets.

Qassam Arabic (@qassamarabic)

This account was created on December 17, 2012; as of this writing, it had 1,029 followers and had posted 756 Tweets.

Qassam Hebrew (@qassamhebrew)

This account was created on February 9, 2013; as of this writing, it had 1,958 followers and had posted 263 tweets.

Other Active Hamas Twitter Accounts

Al-Aqsa TV Channel (@AqsaTVChannel)

On January 7, 2006, Hamas launched its TV channel, Al-Aqsa TV. On March 18, 2010, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Al-Aqsa TV and designated it a terrorism-financing organization. The actions taken by the U.S. Treasury Department freezes all assets held by Al-Aqsa TV under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with them. The Treasury Department stated that Al-Aqsa TV is financed and controlled by Hamas, serving as a primary Hamas media outlet that airs programs “designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood.” Following the U.S. Treasury Department’s actions, France moved to ban the broadcasting of Al-Aqsa TV in France. Al-Aqsa TV Channel began tweeting on September 14, 2011. As of this writing, it has posted 17,900 tweets and has 55,900 followers.

Moussa Abu Marzouq, Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Chairman (@mosa_abumarzook)

Hamas Political Bureau deputy chairman Moussa Abu Marzouq was listed as a Specially Designated Terrorist by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1995, and is currently on the re-named Treasury Department’s Specially Designated National list under a number of alternative spellings: Dr. Musa Abu-Marzuq, Sa’id Abu-Marzuq, Mousa Mohamed Abou Marzook, Musa Abu Marzouk, and Musa Abu Marzuk. He is also listed under the alias Abu-‘Umar. Abu Marzouq began tweeting on July 24, 2011. As of this writing he has tweeted 1,048 times and has over 38,000 followers.

Izzat Rishq, Hamas Political Bureau Member (@izzat_risheq)

Izzat Rishq, a senior Hamas official who was based in Syria, is a member of the organization’s Political Bureau. Rishq began tweeting on September 2, 2011. As of this writing, he has posted 4,681 tweets and gained 41,000 followers.

Hamas Foreign Affairs Government Information Office Spokesperson (@isra_jourisra)

Isra Almodallal, Director of Foreign Affairs at the Government Information Office in Gaza, has as of this writing posted 1,596 Tweets and has 11,000 followers.

* Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of MEMRI.

Endnote:

[1] Qassam.ps/news-7910-Twitter_suspends_account_of_al_Qassam_Brigades.html, accessed July 9, 2014.