Online Jihadis Embrace Instagram (Warning: Graphic Images)

By: Steven Stalinsky*

May 9, 2013


Instagram is an increasingly popular social media company that allows users to share photos.  The site boasts 90 million monthly active users, and says that its users post 40 million photos every day. Photos used on Instagram can be seen by visiting websites such as Statigram, which is a web viewer for Instagram that allows users to view and search photos.

Since MEMRI first began monitoring the site four months ago, there has been a tremendous increase of its use by online jihadis. A common theme of the photos that they post is images of and quotes by Al-Qaeda leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Anwar Al-Awlaki, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and many others. Another theme is the glorification of imprisoned jihadis: the Blind Sheikh Omar Abd Al-Rahman, Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others who have successfully attacked Americans.

Following the recent phenomenon of the dissemination of photos of dead jihadi “martyrs” on Twitter, many of the same images, and similar ones, can be found on Instagram.

According to Instagram’s Community Guidelines, accounts found to share prohibited or illegal content, including photographs of extreme violence or gore, may be disabled, and Instagram “will take appropriate action, “which may include reporting [the user] to the authorities.”

Statigram’s Terms of Use state that the User/Organizer agrees not to use the Site or the Contest Tool to: publish any content or any photo that do not meet the conditions set forth in the Terms of Use Statigram Site; that do not comply with the Site policies; that is pornographic, racist, anti-Semitic, discriminatory, paedophiliac, racial, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, illegal, injurious, defamatory, that encourages violence or criminal acts, that shows dead animals or people, blood or blood imitation, or similar contents, “or that is in any other way reprehensible as determined in the sole and absolute discretion of Statigram.”

This report highlights some Statigram accounts that are jihadi pictures from Instagram – the most recent Western social media company infested by online jihadis, and violating its rules/guidelines.

To request a full copy of this MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor report, send us an email with the report title, number, and date in the subject line, and include your name, title, organization, and official contact info in the body of the email.