The ongoing war in Iraq and Syria between jihadi organizations and their opponents is continuously expressed in the virtual world of social media, and especially on Twitter, which is the preferred platform for the online discourse of jihadi and oppositionist groups.
Tracking the Twitter accounts of the various jihadi organizations helps estimate their strength and modes of operation. As an organization grows stronger, it gathers supporters and opponents who actively use Twitter to either praise or attack it. This report will review a number of Twitter accounts that represent or support the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is growing popular in Iraq, Syria, and even elsewhere in the Islamic world. This popularity is expressed,inter alia, by a wealth of Twitter activity and an increase in the number of its online supporters as well as opponents.
ISIS sees itself as a sovereign state in every sense and as the ruler of all Muslims. In April 2007, the Islamic State leadership announced its division into provinces – wilayat, as in the days of the Islamic caliphate – and even established a cabinet of ministers operating under the founding Emir, Abu ‘Omar Al-Baghdadi. The cabinet ceased to exist over the years but the division into geographic provinces remains to this day. Alongside Twitter accounts established for each province, an additional account called Wilayat Al-Twitter (“the Twitter Province”) was established as well, which shows that Twitter is perceived as a province in itself. ISIS and its supporters have hundreds of Twitter accounts, which indicates the importance they attribute to this tool.
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